Aquatics Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Bailey Andison thrives in International Swimming League’s competition in Budapest Bubble

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-at-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Twenty Ottawa and area swimmers are on the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic radar, 16 have received trials’ invites and seven are eyeing the 2021 Tokyo Games.

The modified Canadian Olympic and Paralympic swimming trials are slated for April 7-11 in Toronto, after a three-day, pre-meet training period. There will be a maximum of 20 swimmers in each event.

Strictly following all COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, all races will be timed finals as each event will have two 10-swimmer competitions. There will be no spectators.

Swimming Canada recently issued its initial list ranking the top 30 athletes in each Olympic event based on long-course race results from Sept. 1, 2018 to Dec. 6, 2020. Trial invitations were sent to the top 20.

The deadline for first-round acceptances was Friday, Jan. 15, and, depending on what races the swimmers select, more invitations could be extended in the second round, beginning Jan. 20.

Eli Wall. File photo

Montana Champagne and Regan Rathwell, both of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club, Eli Wall of Toronto Swim Club, Ottawa’s Alexandre Perreault, Smiths Falls’ Bailey Andison of Perth Stingrays Aquatic Club, and Pembroke’s Alyson Ackman of Pointe-Claire S.C. will press for an Olympic berth.

Two-time Paralympian Camille Berube of Natation Gatineau is the only National Capital Region swimmer in the Paralympic swim trials, which will have 44 world-ranked qualifiers.


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Champagne has achieved the FINA B Olympic qualifying time standard in the 400-metre IM (4:21.40) and 200m butterfly (1:59.21), where he’s ranked No. 2 in Canada for both races and is No. 4 in the 200m IM (2:02.09).

“He has had a really good year so far,” said his former University of Ottawa coach Dave Heinbuch. “He’s on the outside a little bit, but we’re hopeful.”

He’s about 2.5 to 3 seconds off FINA A standard in his 200m races.

Wall, a Toronto Titans International Swimming League team member, is No. 2 in Canada in 200m breaststroke (2:12.80) and No. 3 in 100m breaststroke (1:01.70), which are both FINA B standards.

Perreault, who represented Canada at the 2018 world short-course championships and 2019 Universiade, has the B standard in the 100m butterfly (53.47) and is ranked No. 3 nationally.

Andison, who posted good short-course results inside the International Swimming League bubble, is No. 3 and No. 5 respectively in the 200m IM (2:11.33, A standard) and 400m IM (4:45.20, B).

Ackman, a triple medallist at the 2019 Lima Pan-Am Games, has national top-10 rankings in six freestyle races, including five FINA B standards. She’s one to three seconds off the A standard over 100m, 200m and 400m.

Rathwell, who has committed to the University of Tennessee for 2022 and raced the 200m backstroke A final at the 2019 Canadian world championships trials, is ranked No. 5 in 200m back (2:12.39, B), and No. 9 in 100m back (1:01.16, B).

Berube, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, is ranked No. 6 in the world in the SM7 class 200m IM. She also will race in S7 backstroke and S6 breaststroke races at the trials.

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Lauren Shearer (200m breaststroke), William Barrett (200m breaststroke), Louis Bertrand (400m freestyle) and Conor Smythe (200m backstroke) will be looking to crack the top 8 at trials.

The top-20 rankings also include five swimmers from the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club: Madison Archer, 800m/1,500m freestyle; Mia Zahab, 200m butterfly/400m IM; Megan Wheeler, 200m backstroke; David Quirie, 200m/800m/1,500m freestyle; and Colton Milne, 200m breaststroke.

Hoping for a top-20 promotion after qualified swimmers make their choices are: Gee-Gees’ Adelle Yamashita-Ball, 800m freestyle, and Jamie Demers, men’s 100m breaststroke; Barracudas’ Breckin Gormley, 100m butterfly; and Swim Ottawa’s Gabriel Tejada, 100m butterfly.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

By Martin Cleary

On the surface, the scenario seemed so inviting during a cruel time. Two weeks in a European capital. Residing in an island hotel in the middle of the city. Doing something you love.

But these are COVID-19 pandemic times. How can this day-dreaming idea be transformed into reality? Well, the International Swimming League pulled it off in Budapest and Bailey Andison of Smiths Falls was part of it.

Bailey Andison. Photo: ISL

During a six-week solidarity camp and competition, featuring 10 meets over 24 days in late October and early November, the ISL said it had no positive tests for swimmers and “managed to deliver a fantastic product.”

“The experience was completely amazing,” Andison wrote in an email interview. “

Not only did the ISL produce a competition for the athletes to race for the first time this year, they also did it safely.

“This was a big concern for a lot of the athletes,” highlighted the Perth Stingrays Swim Club product. “I think a lot of people on the outside were skeptical about how it would go, but the events ran so smooth and we felt very safe the entire time.”

Competing for DC Trident in the ISL’s second season, Andison emerged from the Budapest Bubble having raced other elite swimmers, earned five top-four results, which brought her prize money, and made lifetime friends.

“My team was incredible. We all genuinely cared for each other and I came away from Budapest with new friendships and bonds that will undoubtedly last a lifetime,” added the former Indiana University senior.

When Andison met her teammates in Budapest, she was tested for COVID-19, quarantined for 12 hours and tested again. She was restricted to two locations: her hotel on Margaret Island and the DUNA Arena pool.

Swimmers were allowed 90 minutes outdoor time each day to explore the Danube River island. “(It) doesn’t seem like a lot, but when we are still training and competing full time, it was the perfect amount,” she added.

“Masks were worn at all times other than when we were in the pool and social distancing was exercised,” wrote Andison, who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and now focuses on the 2021 Canadian Olympic trials in April.

Although her DC Trident team finished ninth and missed the playoffs by one spot, Andison was quite happy with her swim results. In her four two-day meets, she recorded two second-place results, one third and two fourths.

The top three swimmers in each race didn’t receive medals, which eliminated podium ceremonies and kept the meets flowing quickly. Prize money ($U.S.) was awarded to the top 4: $2,400, $1,600, $800 and $400.

Andison’s times were consistent in her 12 individual-medley races: 100 metres – 1:00.20 to 1:00.70; 200 metres – 2:07.52 to 2:08.35; and 400 metres – 4:31.60 to 4:33.93.

“Given the circumstances of training this year, I was unsure how it would go,” Andison continued. “I started out quite strong and would like to have gotten faster as the meets progressed.

“However, I was relatively consistent throughout my time there and I am content with the results. The first meet (Oct. 18-19) was my best showing. I placed second in both of my best events (200- and 400-metre IM).”

Andison’s next major step is the 2021 Olympic trials and the ISL gave her “a good indicator of where I am at and where I need to be.”

“I am in a good place and capable of getting faster going into the spring season.”

Her focus at the Olympic trials will be the 200- and 400-metre IMs. “I have a good shot at making the team. It all comes down to how athletes swim on one particular day and that results in the selection for the meet.”

Andison won the women’s 200-metre IM bronze medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. She also was the 2019 Big Ten champion in the 400-yard IM and third over 200 yards.

The 23-year-old also competed in the ISL in 2019, which was its inaugural year. She raced for the Los Angeles Current. The Current didn’t need an IM swimmer this year, but DC Trident recruited her to fill that important team spot.

“It’s like any professional sports league, where teams need to fill certain positions so they find athletes with those strengths and do their best to get them on their team,” Andison said.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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