HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
A relieved Alex Perreault has already checked off an important item on his preparation list for the twice-postponed Canadian Olympic swim trials slated for June 19-23.
For the longest time, the Ottawa Swim Club butterfly specialist was worried his first race in 16 months would be his opening men’s 100-metre race during the trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
But at the end of May, Perreault and eight other Ottawa and area swimmers were invited to rediscover competitive racing at the Take5 HP Test Event. It was a blessing for Ontario swimmers and organizers.
“It was the first time I had raced since the start of the pandemic,” Perreault said in a phone interview. “It was nice not to have that on my mind going into the trials. It was long overdue.”
Perreault took advantage of a rare, test-event meet during COVID-19 pandemic times by racing in the 100-metre butterfly and 100-metre freestyle to get more experience coming off the starting blocks.
While swimming pools throughout Ontario have been closed for recreational use more often than they have been open during the pandemic, high-performance swimmers have been able to practice daily.
Perreault normally trains at the Francois Dupuis Recreation Centre pool in Orleans. But the Ottawa-based swimmers preparing for the Olympic trials are in a training bubble at the Nepean Sportsplex.
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There are 12 Ottawa and area swimmers who were invited by Swimming Canada to the Olympic trials. Perreault is one of five regional swimmers with serious hopes of making Canada’s Summer Olympic team.
Perreault is ranked second entering the men’s 100-metre butterfly at 53.47 seconds. If he wins his trial race and matches or beats the Olympic A time standard of 51.96, he’ll make the team.
If he doesn’t achieve the A standard, he’ll need to meet the B standard of 53.32 and win the race. If he’s selected for the 100-metre butterfly, he’ll also be named to the 4×100-metre medley relay team.
Perth Stingrays’ Bailey Andison is No. 2 in the women’s 200-metre individual medley and No. 4 in the 400 IM. Sydney Pickrem of Toronto Swim Club is No. 1 in both races and has been pre-named to the team.
Andison has achieved the A standard in the 200-metre IM with a time of 2:09.99 and the B standard in the 400-metre IM at 4:39.54.
University of Ottawa grad Montana Champagne of Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club will be busy with four men’s races – 100-metre butterfly, 200-metre IM, 400-metre IM and the 200-metre butterfly.
Champagne is ranked No. 2 in the 200-metre butterfly (1:59.21) and 400-metre IM (4:21.40), meeting the B standard in both. He’s No. 4 in the 200-metre IM (2:02.09), No. 6 in the 100-metre fly (55.33).
Ottawa’s Eli Wall of the Toronto Swim Club has achieved the B standard in the men’s 200-metre breaststroke (2:12.80), sitting at No. 2, and the 100-metre breaststroke (1:01.70), putting him No. 3.
Pembroke’s Alyson Ackman, who came out of retirement in January 2019, for the Pointe-Claire Swim Club and won four Pan Am Games medals in Lima, Peru, will compete in five women’s freestyle races.
Ackman has made the B standard in the 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1,500-metre freestyle races and is ranked No. 3 over 400 metres (4:11.08), the same race where she won the 2019 Pan Am bronze medal.
Regan Rathwell of GO Kingfish is No. 5 with the B standard in the women’s 200-metre backstroke (2:12.39). She also will race the 100-metre backstroke and 200-metre IM.
Breckin Gormley of Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club is ranked eighth in the women’s 100-metre butterfly and also will race in the 200-metre butterfly and the 200-metre IM.
Barracudas teammate Megan Wheeler will focus on the women’s 100- and 200-metre backstrokes and the 200- and 400-metre IMs, while Barracuda Mia Zahab will concentrate on the 200-metre butterfly and 400-metre IM.
The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees swim team will have two swimmers on the blocks for the Olympic trials: Lauren Shearer, 100- and 200-metre breaststrokes, and Adelle Yamashita-Ball, women’s 800-metre freestyle.
Xavier Pimentel is an up-and-coming freestyle swimmer with Natation Gatineau. He’ll compete in the 200-, 800-, and 1,500-metre freestyle races.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.