With just two days to go before four Aquanauts make their first-ever appearance at the junior provincial swim meet in Brantford, head coach Roman Ramirez said all the necessary physical preparations are complete.
All that remains is making sure Karli McKinnon, Jessica Cousineau, and Rachel and Heather Dutton are mentally focused on doing their best.
“They’ve been training really hard,” said Ramirez. “The conditioning has been very good, but they have to maintain the mental balance.”
Ramirez said he expects at least 300 of the top swimmers in Ontario to challenge for national standard times.
Rachel Dutton will swim in the 200m IM, 100m butterfly, and the 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle events; Cousineau will enter the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle; and McKinnon will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 100m and 200m backstroke.
Heather Dutton will try her hand at the 100m butterfly, and 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle events.
Aquanaut Boyd Badiuk, who had qualified to swim in eight events at the provincial meet, opted not to compete there.
The preliminary races begin Friday, with finals running until Sunday.
With 6,000 seats in the viewing gallery at the Wayne Gretzky Centre, Ramirez said the weekend will be quite the eye-opener for his young crew.
“They’re excited. It’ll be a good experience,” he said. “The goal is to improve on personal times.”
It’s the first time a group of local swimmers will make the trek to the provincial meet. Aquanauts have qualified in the past but seldom committed to going due to the financial commitment (swimmers must pay their own transportation).
But Ramirez said sending swimmers to Brantford is one of the goals he set when he took over the head coaching job last summer.
“I told them my goal was to make a team of elite swimmers,” he said.
Meanwhile, 11 other Aquanauts in the ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ levels will take part in a sprint meet in Kenora this Saturday and Sunday against swimmers from there, Thunder Bay, and Balmertown.