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St. Albert swimmer part of gold-winning team

The provincial championship is one of the largest competitive swimming events in Alberta. The top swimmers use this event to prepare for national- and international-level competitions.
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Olympian Swim Club members Minh Nguyen (left), Marco Burgos, Ian Cameron, and Hayden Visscher win gold in the 4x100 medley relay at the provincial championships held at Kinsmen Sports Centre over the weekend. FACEBOOK/Olympian Swim Club

St. Albert swimmer Hayden Visscher of the Olympian Swim Club was a part of the gold-winning team that won the 4x100 medley relay at provincials over the weekend.

“We were placed fourth initially and ended up getting fist overall with crazy good times for all four of us,” said Visscher in a text message after receiving the medal with team members Minh Nguyen from Edmonton, Marco Burgos from outside of St. Albert, and Ian Cameron from Sherwood Park.

March 17-20, Swim Alberta and the Olympian Swim Club hosted the provincial championships at the Kinsmen Sports Centre — the first provincial championship to be held since the start of the province's shutdown of group gatherings due to COVID-19 two years ago.

In an interview with The Gazette, Visscher said it was exciting to have so many people in the audience, as it has been two years with no or very few spectators.

“The whole difference of having spectators versus is no spectators, it can change your whole race even. The cheering does so much more than people think. Just having people cheering for you before the race is amazing. It's hard to explain, but it gets you going, keeps you awake. And it's fun. It's what keeps us going for four days straight,” he said.

Visscher said COVID-related health regulations hit him hard. He said the team was out of the pool for around a year-and-a-half.

“We were able to get in and out here and there. But it came down to just dry-land training. But that's the thing … dry-land training helps with strength and with balance and with endurance, but you cannot train the same feeling of swimming out of the pool. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

It was tough to come back, said Visscher, but he thinks he and his team have been coming back well and strong.

The provincial championship is one of the largest competitive swimming events in Alberta. The top swimmers use this event to prepare for national- and international-level competitions.

Visscher, who is 16, raced in the 50, 100, 200 breast; 50 and 100 back; 100 free; and the 4x100 medley relay. He considers the provincials meet as a training meet “because the big meet is in two weeks.”

The Canadian Swimming Trials will be held in Victoria, B.C., April 6-10, and it will be Visscher’s first time at that event.

“That's where I got to perform. That's where everyone's got to perform. Everyone's going to be at their top level for that,” he said.

Visscher said provincials allowed him to perfect his technique and gave him a chance to rehearse his events.

“Once we get to Trials then the attitude changes. The goals change. For Trials when we get there, we want to try to make teams. We need to go and put all our performance into that meet. We've all been looking forward to [Trials]. That’s where all this training goes to. That's where we need to really be on top,” he said.

Visscher said his big weakness is his sleep schedule.

“I have the worst sleep schedule. It's all completely on me. But my sleep schedule is not great, it needs to be fixed,” he said.

He is also concerned about nerves during the event.

“I’ve got to learn to control those. Because nerves will change your performance. So much more than people think. If you're jumping around shaking behind the blocks before your race, all you're doing is wasting energy and freaking yourself out,” he said.

Visscher said he is not one to make goals, but he would love to get a podium place at the Canadian Swimming Trials or even make a team.

“I'm a big ‘see what happens,’ you know? It's going to be exciting,” he said.

About the Author: Jessica Nelson

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