OTTAWA, Canada, January 27. CANADIAN Olympic and world championship team member Tobias Oriwol of Pointe-Claire, Que., announced he would make a return to competitive swimming this spring and train with the Toronto Academy of Swimming.
After competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Oriwol made a decision to focus on his urban planning studies at Harvard University in Boston. He is currently completing his Masters and plans to return to Canada in the late spring to resume his swimming career after an 18-month absence from the pool.
"Soon after I decided to stop swimming after the 2008 Olympics, I realized I missed it," said Oriwol, 24. "But I had made the decision I would devote the next two years to my studies. Still it was in the back of my mind that I would come back to swimming again."
Over the Christmas holidays, Oriwol looked at the possibilities of training at the national centres in Victoria, Montreal or Toronto. The Ontario capital provided some familiarity and in addition his parents currently reside in Etobicoke.
"What attracted me to Toronto is that I already know some of the swimmers on the team as well as Byron MacDonald (coach) and I had some very positive meetings with head coach John Rodgers as well."
Rodgers is a former coach with the Australian national program who led his swimmers to eight Olympic medals. He was hired this past fall to lead the program at the Toronto Academy of Swimming.
In addition, Canada's revival in international swimming over the past couple of years has also inspired Oriwol.
"I feel like I just missed out on a very exciting time in Canadian swimming," he said. "Watching the latest results there's some great things happening in Canadian swimming and I would love to be a part of that."
Oriwol has been a fixture on the Canadian national swimming scene since age 15 when he made his first world championship team in 2001. He is a seven-time national champion and has also raced for Canada at the Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships.
He knows he faces a major challenge to return to the form that made him one of Canada's top individual medley and backstroke swimmers.
"I haven't been training as much as I would like in the past two years but that's O.K.," he said. "My plan was to put all of my time into school. But I'm keeping in touch with the coaches and sports sciences department at the Academy so I can build a base for myself training-wise once I arrive in Toronto full time."
For 2010, Oriwol has set realistic goals.
"After taking 18 months off we're just going to focus on getting back to where I was before and build from there towards the 2012 Olympics."
"It's a realistic challenge because I know I will receive the proper training, planning and support to achieve my goals."
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