By Chad Ouellette
Ottawa-bred swimmer Eli Wall missed qualifying for Canada’s national team that will travel to the world championships but is still holding out hope that he’ll be tapped for next year’s Olympic team.
Wall’s top finish at the at the Canadian swimming trials in April came in the 200 metre breast stroke, which he finished in a time of 2:12:80, which was less than half a second behind the race’s winner and perennial national team member, James Dergousoff.
“The trials weren’t exactly what I was hoping for,” Wall told the Sportspage. “They were by no means bad. I was just a little off where I thought I should have been.
“I think most of it comes from not having raced enough within the past few months. I’m finished all of my eligibility with the university team, so I’ve sort of been on my own program, … the training was good, I just wasn’t racing enough.”
Wall’s been swimming for roughly 15 years. He grew up swimming for the Greater Ottawa Kingfish before beginning his U Sports swimming career at the University of Toronto. While at U of T for five years, he was a star. He won the university’s T-Holders’ male athlete of the year award in both 2014-15 and 2017-18. Most recently, he’s represented the Toronto Swim Club.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult,” Wall said of transitioning to training outside of the structure of the Varsity Blues. “I’ve always been pretty self-motivating; I still train with the varsity team. I do go to some of their meets. There have been a couple of people in the same program as me who are in the same boat, so I’ve never been totally alone.”
Wall’s competed internationally before at events that have included the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
“One of the biggest things I can think of is when you’re on the international stage, you’re not necessarily going to know the person you’re swimming next to,” he explains. “So, you have no idea what their race strategy is, or how fast they are, or if their best time is where they are at right now.
“When you go overseas you really just have to focus on your own race and control the things you can control and stick to your own game plan.”
Wall is looking forward to competing for Canada at the 2019 FISU Games in Naples, Italy in July, which will give him an indication in the months ahead of the Olympic year how he compares to some of the world’s top young swimmers.
“My best times are close enough that I think it’s achievable,” Wall said about the prospect of qualifying for Canada’s Olympic team. “There’s definitely a few things I’m going to have to work on, and I’m going to have to work pretty hard for the next twelve months, but I think it’s possible.”
Ottawa’s Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson was one of 16 Canadian athletes who competed at the national trials and earned a spot on the team that will represent the country at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. Seltenreich-Hodgson placed 4th in the 400m individual medley and 6th in the 200m individual medley at the Canadian swim trials. The 2016 Olympian will swim at the Pan Ams for the second time. She won a bronze medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2015 Games in Toronto.