POINTE-CLAIRE, Que. — A group of young West Island athletes are clocking plenty of pool time these days, but not the kind most of us typically enjoy during the warm summer months.
The pre-teens from the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre are busy training and prepping for this weekend’s Speedo Junior Development National Championships at the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex.
The 11- and-12-year-olds are currently training for six hours a day, five days a week at the Pointe-Claire Centre, a facility that has been home to some of Quebec’s best swimmers and divers.
Assistant Head Coach David Bédard has been training the next generation of divers there for more than a decade. He is a former competitive diver and has competed in four Olympic Games. He said he believes part of what sets the Centre apart is its convivial atmosphere.
“We’re trying to please as many people as we can and make this place as good as possible – whether you are going to be an Olympian or not,” said Bédard. “Because it’s a community centre, we have to maintain a cozy community feel. We try, from the ground up, to have something for everyone.”
But that doesn’t mean the children on his team, many of whom have been diving or swimming here since the age of four don’t compete to win. They understand first-hand that the dedication required to get this good at something inevitably means making sacrifices.
“It’s a very fun sport, at the same time, it’s extremely scary,” said 11 year-old Nathan Zsombor-Murray in between plunges on Tuesday morning.
“Sometimes you really don’t feel like diving, and those are by far the worst days.”
An understated plaque by the Centre’s entrance details its impressive Olympian alumni. The list, which includes swimming greats like Anne Jardin and Victor Davis, points to the Centre’s pioneering role in water sports in this country. Indeed, the city of Pointe-Claire erected Canada’s first Olympic sized pool on the site in 1966.
Recent renovations have updated it to a near state-of-the-art facility. But many credit its success to the spirit of the place more than the height of the diving boards or depth of the pool.
The Speedo Junior Development National Championships run from July 11 to July 13.
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