WORLD-CLASS DEVEL­OP­MENT

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SWIM BIKE RUN TRANSITION - BY KERRY HALE

THE ED­MON­TON TRIATHLON Academy (ETA) is the legacy of a decade of the City of Ed­mon­ton host­ing highly suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional triathlon events. Fol­low­ing the 2007 Ed­mon­ton World Cup, the ETA board re­solved to let other Cana­dian com­mu­ni­ties take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity for host­ing world cup events, but, sens­ing a need for an ath­lete devel­op­ment cen­tre in the re­gion, the board switched its fo­cus to the devel­op­ment of young lo­cal tal­ent.

The vi­sion is to cre­ate a “win­ning environment, an op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed,” says Kevin Clark, the head coach at ETA. “The pos­i­tive environment we cre­ate here at the ETA is one we con­stantly work to pro­tect. The City of Ed­mon­ton is to be thanked for pro­vid­ing fund­ing, which truly sup­ports our vi­sion for triathlon.”

The ETA now has more youth/ju­niors than se­niors, though that wasn’t al­ways the case. The fo­cus is on draft le­gal rac­ing with ath­letes join­ing the pro­gram with the un­der­stand­ing that train­ing is geared to­wards re­lays, sprint and Olympic dis­tance rac­ing.

“We have three squads with a youth Triskills squad, ju­nior devel­op­ment and a U23’s squad,” ex­plains Clark. “Un­of­fi­cially, we have a very se­lect se­niors/age group squad who have to be ex­tremely self-re­liant due to our ju­nior fo­cus. I’m very proud of our ath­letes’ im­proved per­for­mances across the board this year and I see that as a re­flec­tion of our en­tire coach­ing team rather than one-off in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances.”

The swim­ming home of the ETA is the Kins­men Cen­tre. The academy uti­lizes the Ar­gyle Velo­drome and Re­search Park where cri­terium races are held for race bike-spe­cific ses­sions. Dur­ing the warmer months, they in­cor­po­rate “end­less” lo­cal run trails and use a gravel “Kenyan” 400 m track once per week.

In win­ter, ETA ath­letes train in makeshift lo­ca­tions that are less than per­fect. “We don’t use the uni­ver­sity 200 m track, we use the un­der­ground tun­nel at the leg­is­la­ture grounds,” says Clark. “The bike room is a barren load­ing dock in a busi­ness unit wait­ing to be sold that a board mem­ber’s par­ents pro­vided free. Other years a par­ent has got us into his school. It re­ally tests the de­ter­mi­na­tion and mo­ti­va­tion of our ath­letes.”

The ETA also hosts win­ter in­door aquathlons at the Kins­men Pool and 200 m track as a way of keep­ing ath­letes fo­cused through­out the long, cold win­ter.

“We set up the 50 m pool to high­light the need for 50 m to 400 m swim speed as key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors for summer rac­ing suc­cess. Bring­ing in Paul Tichelaar to race helped drive that in the early days.”

The ETA has hosted Al­berta ju­nior camps around th­ese events and now the se­ries is a two-day train­ing op­por­tu­nity for ju­niors that al­lows for more train­ing races, re­lays and ath­lete feed­back.

The ETA of­fers the flex­i­bil­ity of a part-time pro­gram for youth ath­letes, al­low­ing them to sam­ple triathlon while still at­tend­ing other club and school pro­grams. Coaches ar­range a sched­ule that fits the spe­cific needs of an in­di­vid­ual’s sport­ing devel­op­ment. Elab­o­rat­ing on this, Clark says, “the ear­lier kids go into sin­gle sport pro­grams the ear­lier

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