Best times... or best results. Swimmers hope for the best of both, but sometimes only get one of the two.
South Western Aquatic swim club’s Janelle Klosler, 14, competed as a 13-year-old in the Ontario Summer Festival Short Course meet in Toronto, June 1-2, and it was an exceptional meet.
“Every race that I swam, I got a personal best,” said Klosler, competing in 100m back, 50m free, 200m free and 100m free. “It was pretty amazing. The first time this year. I got all personal bests at a meet last year, too. Nothers, I think.”
She didn’t expect a ‘clean sweep’ in best times, but was quite happy to swim them.
“I just tried to swim my best,” she said. “I was surprised at first, but then it was like, ‘I’ve been training for this…’
“My longer race, 200m free, I took off the most time in that one. Six seconds, I think.
“But I was really happy because I took off time in my 50 free. I hadn’t taken time off in a while.”
Klosler’s goal in 2013-14 is to make it to Provincials.
“I made it to Festival this year, because 13-year-olds can go to Festival or Provincials, but I can’t go next year – so I really want to try to go to Provincials.
“I wouldn’t say I’m ‘that far.’ Last year and the year before, I made provincial times in 50 freestyle, but I didn’t make the prerequisite so I couldn’t go. Last year the 400m IM, and the year before 800…”
Freestyle is still her best event, said Klosler.
“But your breaststroke’s even better, so you should get the prerequisites to that,” noted teammate Cassandra Drescher.
Drescher, 15, swam at both Age Group Nationals in Montreal, July 24-29, and the Ontario Provincial Long Course Championships, July 4-7, in Brantford.
She took 2.72 seconds off her 200m breaststroke to finish second in the finals at provincials, and won the 100m breast missing a best time by a fraction of a second.
But her other eight swims, in prelim and finals, were off her usual pace.
“I got sick at provincials, and I missed a lot of practice leading up to nationals because I had a bronchial infection.”
She was able to get back to regular practices, on medication, about a week before nationals. And because of that, she knew going in it would be difficult to get best times.
“When it was cold the first day, I knew it was going to be even harder.”
Her results at nationals were acceptable, she said, but the times – again – were not up to par.
“I did good compared to some other people, but the times were not good. I got fourth and fifth in my two best events, but…
“The results were okay, but the times were a bit upsetting.”
The 2013 Age Group Championships were held at Parc Jean Drapeau, an outdoor pool.
“It’s better when you’re sweating before you get in the pool.”
For swimmers who train indoors, the sun – and swimming through it – is a factor outdoors.
“That’s why we trained in London at the outdoor pool… we got some outdoor training and it probably helped a little bit.”
“That’s the biggest pool they have,” said SWA teammate Roxy Ramirez.
“The one with the most space on deck,” Drescher nodded. “It’s a nice facility, too.”
Looking ahead to the fall, and beginning the new 2013-14 season, Drescher said she’s hoping to ramp it up again.
“Right now, I think I’m plateauing a little bit. Not doing as well as I’m hoping for. Everybody has those plateaus though, everybody has those moments…”
“And you just have to keep going,” nodded Ramirez. “And then you go back to normal.”
“A lot of people say it can last six months,” said Drescher. “But a lot of people quit in that time because they say they’re not doing good anymore. So if you can stick through it, you’re good. Thirteen is usually the year you start to plateau. I’m lucky, I think that was my peak year – last year was a very good year for me.”
Also, Drescher noted, it’s harder to take off time at the higher competitive levels.
“I’m hoping to do better this year. I’m going to try to train harder than I have been… I know I’ve been slacking off a little bit in practice. In long course, I feel like I haven’t been doing my best.”
If she gets an opportunity to return to Montreal’s outdoor pool, she’s hoping for better weather.
“The first year I swam at nationals in Montreal it was really nice. It’s much better when it’s nice and warm and sunny.”
Ramirez, 13, swam in five events at her first-ever Age Group Championships, and four events – with five best times in six swims – at Long Course Provincials.
Her times were a bit slower in Montreal, but she did make it into the Top 10 in 1500m free.
“I think I was really nervous. I think I was prepared, but I was really nervous behind those blocks. There was a lot of people – I’ve never seen that many people at a meet.”
“There was 700 people and that’s with the ‘knocked down’ groups,” said Drescher, noting how this year the number of national swimmers was reduced due to the three-times qualifying prerequisite.
“The BC (British Columbia) team, they had a huge team,” said Ramirez, “but none of them came because they only had one (qualifying) time.”
“Even Toronto teams didn’t have that many, and in previous years they were huge,” said Drescher.
The end result, said Drescher, should be a positive one for Swim Canada.
“I think this is a good way to do it because you don’t have the one-hit wonders who are going to ‘die’ in later years. You’re going to have more multiple-event swimmers, the swimmers Team Canada wants to look at, wants to focus on.”
“I think Team Canada wants a better level in swimming and that’s why they changed the rules,” said Ramirez.
“You get the better swimmers,” nodded Drescher.
A younger SWA teammate, 12-year-old Hailey Granger, was one of the swimmers with one qualifying time who missed out because she didn’t have three.
“Usually when you swim the 200, you can swim the 400 and the 100,” said Ramirez.
“Some events go along with the others,” said Drescher.
“Like if you can swim the 800m, you can usually swim the 1500m and 400m,” said Ramirez.
“You’re singling out the people who are committed to swimming,” said Drescher.
And that commitment level, Drescher laughed, often affects their social lives.
“I’m always out with these guys, and they’re not really ‘friends’ they’re more ‘family.’ So I’m with my family all the time in the pool. There’s not a lot of time to go to movies or go shopping… If we have open weekends, we’re here (at the pool) or at each others’ house.”
Their sleep schedules, dictated by early-morning practices, noted Ramirez, also affects how much they go out with non-swimming friends.
“If you go over to friends who go to sleep at 1… and you have to wake up at 6 in the morning…”
“We need to have the same schedules,” Drescher agreed.
“And we need to eat good,” said Ramirez.
“We have the same goals,” said Drescher. “You always have your other friends… they’re just not as close.”
“They usually say, ‘why don’t you just skip practice’ or something,” said Ramirez, “and if I skip practice…”
“It will affect you later on down the road,” said Drescher.
Needing three national times to qualify for the Age Group Championships, Ramirez had added the 1500m free and 400m free to her earlier qualifying time.
“I think what I gained (at Age Groups) didn’t affect my ranking for my best times. So I’m still in Canada around Top 20ish. The ones who got first-to-third, they gained too.”
“A lot of the higher-end kids were adding all kinds of time,” said Drescher.
Ramirez hopes to equal those standards again in 2013-14.
“I think so, in 1500m you can lose that time fairly easily.”
It probably won’t be in short distance events, however. Ramirez was 35th in the 100m – her ‘bonus’ swim – at Age Groups.
“I’m not a sprinter,” Ramirez smiled. “She (Klosler) is the sprinter. I’m starting to get better, but no, not really. I’m better at long distance.”
She will continue focusing on freestyle, at least for now.
“Not sure yet… I don’t know if that’s going to change.”
Springford’s Brittany Bell, 14, and Jessica Bell, 17, also competed at Provincials. Brittany swam in four events, earning a best time in 100m free, and an eighth place in the 100m breaststroke final. Jessica competed in 200m breaststroke.