Top juniors compete, learn at Race Simulation Camp

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TORONTO – Some of Canada’s top junior swimmers are gathered in Toronto this week for the Swimming Canada Race Simulation Camp.

The camp brings 10 males and 10 females ages 14 to 17 to the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre for an intensive week of training. But in addition to pool and dryland training, the swimmers are getting up on the blocks and racing each day.

The new pool’s timing system is being used and the camp is meant to have a competitive meet feel to it.

“We’re practising racing in season, something that we’re trying to encourage Canadians to do a little bit more diligently and a little bit more consistently through all the training programs,” said National Development Coach Ken McKinnon, who is overseeing the camp.

The swimmers are in the pool for two training sessions most days, with racing as part of each session over a four-day “meet” from Tuesday through Friday.

“The camp is a really ambitious camp for a number of reasons,” McKinnon said. “It’s about not compromising your training in order to race while you’re in an in-season template. What we’ve noticed in the country is we have a little bit more of that going on than we should. In-season compromising like taking a workout off or a morning off or resting a little bit into a non-significant meet in the early season. It’s going to cost you in the end. That compromise you make in October, November, December, January is going to cot you in the accumulation of training time and training effort as you go into your major peak.”

The 20 swimmers are “a really good group,” McKinnon says are on track as hopefuls for the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships in Singapore next September.

Of course, with the Pan Am Games set for Toronto, some of the swimmers also have dreams of cracking the senior national team and representing Canada on home soil.

“I really want to make 2015 Pan Am Games and 2016 Olympic Games,” said Javier Acevedo, whose Scarborough home is just a few minutes away. “I feel like I’m prepared already, I just need to keep working hard until (the Canadian Swimming Trials in ) April and then by April we’ll know if I’m on a junior team or a senior team.”

Fellow Ontarian Danielle Hanus of Newmarket said she also has the Pan Am Games in the back of her mind. This camp is just another step on the road to representing Canada at the highest level, and the participants will be working to ensure every minute counts before the camp wraps up Saturday morning.

“You have to listen, learn and work with others to become better within your sport,” Hanus said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, it’s something different than I’ve ever experienced.”

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