Sunday, January 16, 2011
Britain Tour - A Report from Coach Neil
After landing in London prior to New Years 2011, the Canadian Youth team quickly settled into a VERY spartan dorm in the Crystal Gardens area of South London. Without much ado, the group, including ISA athletes Alec Page and Keegan Zanatta, accompanied by Coach Neil Harvey, got down to work.
Training was vigorous almost from the first practice. This is a group of the best 18 and under swimmers in Canada, and they were in England to experience training in the land of the 2012 Olympics. The weather since arriving (18 days ago), has seen the sun only 3 times with rain half the time. This is no tourist tour.
The first week finished after a nice New Years trip downtown to see the fireworks. The fatigue was just setting in. After a long delayed bus trip way up to the north east coast near the border with Scotland we arrived in Sunderland. As the rain pelted out it's rhythmic welcome, we settled into a sprawling labyrinth of a hotel right on the coast of the north sea. Can you say quaint? Then back to business.
This time we were training with the England under 19 squad called England Talent. The groups mixed in as did the coaches and we shared ideas and practices for the rest of the week. As expected, the training was very competitive and the groups got along just fine. At the end of the week they hosted a dual meet to see what was what!! Well, after 3 sessions of back and forth, race after race, the lead switching on almost every swim...Canada came out the victors by a scant 4 points. It was down to the men's 200 fly which Mack Darragh from Oakville won in fine style. We put the finishing touch on the meet with a convincing win by the women's 4x100 medley relay. Of course we all forgot the score by the end of lunch :) We did manage a day trip to Newcastle for a look about and some shopping. Nice old town!
Monday saw another day of training in the modern Sunderland pool followed by a short 2 hour trip to the middle England city of Sheffield. The Ponds Forge pool here is the best pool in England, so they say. After the sauna that was Sunderland, we have certainly walked into its rival for air quality. Sweat equity indeed. However... we spent 4 more days of hard training (only 1 session with the very strong local squad) and are now into the meet called the Burns Open Invitational. Some of the best swimmers in Britain are here. Elizabeth Simmons (200 back 206+) and Rebecca Adlington (Beijing 800 meter gold medalist!!) and Liam Tancock (current world record holder 50 back) are all in attendance.
The Canadians are standing up and competing very well indeed. One more day of competition to go. We are looking forward to another great day of racing. Today is day 21 of this long and valuable trip. The swimmers are looking forwards to going home as you would expect (coaches too).
See you soon!
Burns Meet Live Results