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