–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Bytown Storm Triathlon Club
Well-known for offering comprehensive programs that allow athletes to reach the global stage, the Bytown Storm Triathlon Club has also built a reputation as a force for developing the sport from the grassroots through the provincial, national and international levels.
The club has earned its share of glory over the years. Recently-crowned national champion Joanna Brown – Canada’s lone representative for September’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in the Netherlands – launched her international career as a youth with the Bytown Storm.
And Sam Klus was recently in the Netherlands as well, holding tight with some of the world’s best at a European Cup event on Canada Day.
But a great deal of the club’s efforts over many years has been devoted to creating the environments to make those performances possible.
A major piece of puzzle is having the necessary technical knowledge and expertise, and that starts with Storm Head Coach Greg Kealey, who has traveled to many points across the globe and worked alongside many of the world’s best triathlon minds.
The past Triathlon Canada Elite Coach of the Year guides his athletes with the philosophy of “performance through process” and ensures that the commitment to long-term development remains at the forefront at all times.
An example of those principles was on display at the recent Storm-hosted Stittsville Kids of Steel event, which drew over 100 participants to the Goulbourn Recreation Complex on July 16.
Alongside single short-distance races for younger age groups, 14- to 18-year-old athletes took part in Ontario’s first-ever “grand prix” style races, which Kealey had seen employed with great effectiveness in Europe.
Instead of a full sprint or standard-distance race, the athletes completed three races comprising a 200-metre swim, 4 km bike and 1,200 m run on the same day.
The format helps teach athletes key lessons about distraction control and recovery, and most importantly, work on their speed.
“What we want them to do more as they move through that pathway is get fast first and then work on their fitness,” explains Kealey, set to coach Team Ontario at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. “Past Kids of Steel, that tends to be a problem. At the higher level, they’re against really fast people, and they may be really fit, but they haven’t developed speed.”
The Stittsville event was the first of three Kids of Steel competitions organized by the Storm this season, with the last in the series set for Aug. 20 in Dunrobin.
Held at one of the most picturesque nature settings possible out of the Bonnenfant YMCA-YWCA Outdoor Education and Leadership Centre, the Dunrobin KoS has become one of the most popular events in Ontario.
It’s back after a one-year hiatus, which was the product of Storm volunteers needing to devote their energy to putting on an even bigger competition, the Ottawa International Triathlon.
That event has become a major destination as well, drawing many of the best triathletes from the continent and overseas for its CAMTRI Premium America’s Continental Cup.
The Storm club is the motor powering that big race opportunity at the elite level, but it all starts in the Storm Troopers program, which focuses on play and a variety of activities from age 8.
“Our program goes beyond medals and podium finishes, we work hard to develop better people through sport,” explains Kealey, underlining skills learned for goal-setting, time management, tracking and reporting, human physiology and mental strength. “Our whole club is really passionate about developing skills and getting kids excited about being active.”