Sports

FastSwim kicks off Friday

It’s not every day one gets to race against an Olympian. But Rich Rakchtis and Michael Jakac-Sinclair did at the recent Island Cup in Victoria.

And so the Richmond Rapids swimmers made sure to soak up their participation in the men’s 1,500 metres featuring Olympic silver medallist Ryan Cochrane. While Rakchtis wasn’t able to keep up with Cochrane in the end, national development swimmer Michael Jakac-Sinclair was just behind at the 50-metre wall after his best opening time this season. He tried to keep pace on the third 25 metres but Cochrane’s years of distance training gave him the advantage.

“Finishing at Cochrane’s hip, Michael certainly provided a race that surprised Cochrane (who along with fellow Canadian national team member Julia Wilkinson who raced Friday, trains in Victoria and swam in the meet as part of their training regiment),” said Rapids’ head assistant coach Drew McClure.

McClure said it was a rare treat for the Rapids to not only race alongside the Olympians, but just to be able to see in person the results of their training—which doesn’t differ much from their own.

“For the younger ones, especially, they’ve watched these athletes swim fast on TV, but it’s a completely different experience when you’re standing right next to them,” he said.

“It puts everything into perspective, and that you work on things in practice for a very specific reason.”

The highlights weren’t only dependent on the presence of a world-class athlete, however. Brandon Crawford annihilated his 100 breaststroke in a scorching time of one minute, 9.95 seconds to qualify for the western nationals and break the club record for 13-and 14-year-old boys. In the same race, David Ng made his first age group national standard.

“Overall, there was some really satisfying swimming for the Rapids, especially for this point in the season. It really came down to the Rapids desire to race over their physical preparation,” said McClure.

The Island Cup format also mirrors that of the AAA provincials each March, requiring the athletes to swim fast in the morning just to have the opportunity of racing in the evening finals. McClure said it’s a good opportunity to learn to appreciate both the physical and mental requirements to succeed at provincials.

While the Rapids’ annual Fast Swim Classic which begins Friday and continues through Sunday at Watermania isn’t expected to feature any Olympians, there’s a good bet it will feature many prospective ones. But for the Rapids, the meet also challenges them to be focused.

“(Hosting) is easily the biggest drawback,” said McClure. “There may be an advantage in other sports but I think the home pool advantage in non-existent. In fact you sometimes tend to swim too relaxed.”

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