Frapper la piscine.
Or hitting the pool for the English speaking folks out there and that’s exactly what members of the Fort St. John Inconnu Swim Club will be doing in Quebec City starting today.
Four swimmers from the club spent the last week brushing up on their history of Quebec and the French language in anticipation for a trip to the Canadian Age Group Championships in Quebec City.
There will be a little bit of time for sight seeing in one of Canada’s most iconic cities, but the swimmers will be at the event to capture best times and see where they stack up against some of the country’s best in the pool.
Brittany Welsh, 14, who has been swimming at age groups for the last three years said that it is her first real “taper” of the season, a period of rest before a meet and that means her expectations are high.
“Just to do well,” she said. “We have been training all year for this meet, it’s my first real taper of the year, so it’ll be good.”
Welsh added that in her third time around at age groups, there is a simple strategy that leads to strong swimming.
“Just to be calm before your race, and to go in prepared. You really have to prepare yourself for these kinds of meets,” she said. “It is hard to stay focused on your race when there is so much going on.”
For Skyeler Kerr, 16, it’s his second taper of the season and he is ready to see where he lines up after a full period of rest.
“I feel it's going to be good, it’s the second taper of the year for myself,” Kerr said, while adding he will compete in nine races at the event. “It’s been a good season, we haven’t really been able to perform at completely rested yet, so I’m really excited to see it because we have still been able to manage best times even with being under duress for most of those circumstances.”
It’s mixed feelings for Inconnu veteran Ben Blackmon, who will be attending his last age group championships.
“This time around, I’ve been with these guys, so the team is going to be the same so that should be fun,” he said. “It is going to be my last age groups with these guys so, you’re sad, but you’re there with the team. That should be the fun part of it and finishing off on a positive note.”
Other than providing an example for his younger teammates, Blackmon hopes to knock a few seconds off his 200 metre breaststroke time for his upcoming university swim season.
“I’m heading off to university next year and they have a qualifying time so I’m looking to hit that,” he said. “That’s my next goal. The one that I’m closest in is the 200 [breaststroke]. I’m only three seconds off. It’s definitely something I’m going to get closer to.”
17-year-old Cale Murdock is the final member of the club making the trip to Quebec City and he hopes for a top time after a strong showing at AAA provincials earlier this month in the 200 freestyle.
“1:54,” Murdock said without hesitation about his goal time in the 200. “That’s senior national time. That would be nice to get. At AAA’s I was pretty close so it is [my goal] now.”
Each of the swimmers spoke of both the calm and focus it takes to swim at an event like age groups, but Kerr added an important side note as to what it takes to do well at such a big event.
“I think the biggest thing is— I’m the kind of person, I race a lot better when I’m relaxed,” he said. “So I just need to always remember to take a breath and enjoy it. That’s why we do it.”