‘The turnaround was amazing’
As assistant coach, Rideout had to do whatever was needed during training sessions. This included helping swimmers with their mechanics and their workout routine.
One time, he and another assistant even had to run a practice when Brad Hutton was unavailable.
“I just fit in wherever possible,” says Rideout.
The team started training in early July in preparation for the Summer Games.
The first training session was in St John’s and took place between July 9 and 11. Just a few days later, they flew out to Montreal for a second session. Rideout said that having everybody travel to Montreal for training was beneficial to the team. “It built team spirit,” said Rideout. The training sessions were brutally exhausting on the teenage athletes. They trained five hours a day, for one week straight. Some of the swimmers from smaller clubs, who don’t get to swim and train as much as someone from St. John’s, were dead tired and sore at the end of the week.
“One guy told me it’s the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life,” noted Rideout.
But the hard training seemed to instill a positive mentality amongst the young swimmers.
One week after Montreal, they had another training session in St. John’s, and Rideout was pleasantly surprised by his team’s new spirit and positive attitude.
“When I went back to St. John’s, the turnaround was amazing,” said Rideout, with a large grin.
The team became close to one another, with a good group dynamic. And Rideout is joyful when reflecting on his team’s overall success at the Games this summer.
According to Rideout, this year’s swimmers set 17 Canada Games provincial records, and many swimmers broke their previous personal best times.
Like everybody else in Newfoundland and Labrador, Rideout was thrilled when 18 year-old Owen Daly won a silver medal in the 50-metre butterfly. It was Canada’s first medal of the entire games.
“I got pretty welled up. I almost cried on the deck,” recalls Rideout. “I get excited just talking about it.”
Another proud moment for Rideout came during the 4x50 freestyle relay race. The team finished fourth, just a couple seconds back of getting a bronze medal. What made the moment special was how the team went above and beyond expectation for the finals.
According to Rideout, there was one young man in particular who rose to the occasion and swam the race of his life.
“This guy had to drag himself out of the pool,” says Rideout. “That kid deserved it. He worked hard, gave it all he had.”
For Rideout, the Canada Games was an experience of a lifetime and it will help him this year when he once again takes up his coaching duties with the Melville Mantas swim club this fall.
“It’s eye- opening to see the amount of time and effort it takes to make the Canada Games team.”
derek. montague@ thelabradorian. ca