UCRO might need a big­ger pool soon

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - JONATHON BRODIE

The Up­per Canada River Ot­ters have taken some ma­jor strides and they’re not quite done yet, ac­cord­ing to head coach Martin McKend.

Martin McKend

If you ever go to a UCRO prac­tice these days you can’t miss the suc­cess the club is hav­ing. Last year the River Ot­ters made waves with how well they did and this year, through both in­di­vid­ual and team achieve­ments, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is act­ing more like a can­non­ball off the high­div­ing board.

Last year at this time there were just a few swim­mers from the lo­cal club that made the trip to Car­di­nal to prac­tice in the town­ship’s out­door pool to get ready for na­tion­als. The out-of-town train­ing is be­com­ing some­what of a rite of pas­sage that if you can hit a high level then you get a change of scenery for prac­tice.

This year UCRO packed the Car­di­nal fa­cil­ity with a carousel of swim­mers go­ing the length of the pool, get­ting out, and walk­ing back totheother­sidetodoitallover­a­gain. Af­ter only a few swim­mers made the cut last year to par­tic­i­pate in the out­door­work­out,this­timearoundthere was no short­age with Jack Gill go­ing to the Canada Swim­ming Tri­als in Ed­mon­ton start­ing Thurs­day, and Cameron Car­lyle-Locke, Ger­rit Abrams, Jes­sica Tian, Mag­gie Craw­ford, and Abbey Ni­chols go­ing to Cana­dian Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Win­nipeg, which starts July 25.

If you go to the UCRO’s usual prac­tice cen­tre at the YMCA you may or may not no­tice the club’s re­cent re­sults tucked away in the cor­ner, but soon enough they’ll be front and cen­tre.

At the 13-and-un­der On­tario Summer Fes­ti­val Cham­pi­onships in mid-June the club won the Small Team award banner, which is given to the team scor­ing the most points and hav­ing 50 or fewer com­pet­i­tive swim­mers. It was the sec­ond time the River Ot­ters had won the ti­tle with the first one com­ing ear­lier in the sea­son in Fe­bru­ary.

A week later UCRO added to their col­lec­tion by win­ning the Small Team Award and Top Per­form­ing Team at the On­tario Summer AA Cham­pi­onships in Markham. The River Ot­ters had seven swim­mers at the AA Cham­pi­onships and they col­lec­tively earned seven golds, six sil­vers, and one bronze.

The lo­cal swim club’s orig­i­nal two ban­ners are hang­ing up in the cor­ner of the YMCA’s pool area, but there isn’t enough room for four of them over there. McKend said he was told by the YMCA that the ban­ners will get hanged in the rafters for all to see in Septem­ber dur­ing the fa­cil­ity’s pool clo­sure.

“It re­ally brings the team to­gether be­cause it’s not just one in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance, it’s ev­ery­body

There should hope­fully be some room for more ban­ners.”

com­ing to­gether. The re­lays matter, every swim, every point mat­ters, and every best time. Now they re­ally be­lieve they’re part of a re­ally strong team,” said McKend. “There should hope­fully be some room for more ban­ners.”

If you want to teach a child how to add and mul­ti­ply then hav­ing them part of UCRO might help with that nowa­days.

“I think it’s a snow­ball ef­fect,” said McKend about his team’s suc­cess. “It started with Cameron Car­lyleLocke (at na­tion­als), then it moved to Jack Gill mak­ing Tri­als, and it moved to the three last year. Even at the pro­vin­cial level it was one, then four, then eight and now ev­ery­body is pat of the group and be­lieves they can be there.”

At some point the waves have to calm, right?

They may even­tu­ally, but McKend doesn’t see things slow­ing down any­time soon.

He’s al­ready look­ing at get­ting the na­tional ath­letes to the next level for the 2018-19 sea­son and he’s hop­ing they’ll qual­ify for the Olympic Tri­als. The coach added Car­lyle-Locke, Craw­ford, and Ni­chols are, “Just a hair away.”

The­coachal­so­plan­son­havingeight to 10 ath­letes in the Car­di­nal pool next year train­ing for na­tion­als. “It’s still go­ing up,” said McKend. Hope­fully there is enough room in the pool for all of them.

JONATHON BRODIE/The RecoRdeR and TiMes

The Up­per Canada River Ot­ters filled the out­door pool in Car­di­nal in prepa­ra­tion for na­tion­als.

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