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Own The Podium helps create high-performance swim & triathlon centre
Updated On: January 12, 2012
Bell High School student Samantha Klus is one of eight Bytown Storm triathletes who is training at the University of Ottawa’s new regional high-performance training centre for swimming and triathlon. File photo

By Anne Duggan

Infrastructure upgrades, increased coaching services and frequent training camps are a few of the key benefits local athletes will see thanks to the newly established regional high-performance training centre for swimmers and triathletes at the University of Ottawa.

The centre’s partners – including the Own The Podium program, the University of Ottawa, Swim Ontario and the Greater Ottawa Kingfish swim club – say the initiative will provide a world-class training facility for athletes in those sports.

“From a very fundamental perspective, to be good in a 50-metre pool you have to train in one,” says GO Kingfish board member Brian Parkin, explaining that the full U of O pool will be available more frequently to swimmers.

This includes time at training camps, of which there are four planned for the next five months. The pool will also receive infrastructure upgrades such as replacing the 20-year-old ropes that divide swimming lanes.

Bytown Storm triathlon team founder Greg Kealey notes that local triathletes will also benefit from the training centre because of Own the Podium's desire to partner complementary sports together.

His team has eight athletes who will spend regular training hours at the University of Ottawa pool and its other facilities, and the club has also recently added 2000 Olympian Sharon Donnelly to its staff.

“Some of our best athletes will now be training with some of the best swimmers in the region and hopefully we all get better,” Kealey says, explaining the advantage for the athletes.

Kealey believes the regional training centre is especially key for university-aged athletes. Firstly, U of O is a place where Francophone athletes can study in their mother tongue. It also provides a viable option for athletes from the region to remain at home for their university years and still have a high-performance training environment.

Boost for next generation

Samantha Klus, 16, is one of the Storm triathletes training at the new centre. Triathletes in Klus’ junior age category must swim 750 metres, cycle 15-20 kilometres, and run 5 km – roughly half the Olympic distance.

The Bell High School student swims five to six times a week for an hour and a half at a time. She has competed at the provincial and national level, and garnered a 10th place finish at last year's nationals. Moving up into the top-five is her objective for next season.

“This means I will need to focus on improving my speed at swimming and getting out of the water more quickly, and be able to run five kilometers in under 19 minutes,” enumerates the high school cross-country running competitor.

With aspirations of competing for Canada internationally, Klus is hoping the new centre may provide that extra boost.

“Right now we train at a whole bunch of places,” Klus explains. “It will be nice to have just one place where we can do everything. And there will be a lot more people to train with, too.”

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