by Rick Madge
One of rarest of rare events happened tonight at the Canadian Olympic Trials All 4 members of an Olympic relay team train in the same place. And while they come from different clubs, they all train now at the High Performance Centre – Ontario located in Toronto.
The four women representing Canada in the Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay are:
Penny Oleksiak, Toronto Swim Club / HPC-Ontario
Chantal Vanlandeghem, Toronto Swim Club / HPC-Ontario
Sandrine Mainville, CAMO / HPC-Ontario
Michelle Williams, NYAC / HPC-Ontario
Penny Oleksiak was particularly excited about her and her training partners to all make the same relay. “They’re such great people. We train together. We know each other so well. We get along so well. We cooperate so well. This will really help our team.”
To make things just a little bit better, Penny not only won the trials, but broke the World Junior Record by a full half-second, finishing with 53.31. Not bad for a 15-year old.
Having all 4 train at the same place means that one person is responsible for getting them on the Olympic team, and will be responsible for training them as a relay team. And that coach is Ben Titley.
Coach Titley came to Toronto to be Head Coach of the centre in 2012 after 16 years coaching out of Loughborough University in the UK. During that time he coached numerous athletes to World Records, World Championships, Olympic medals, European Championships and pretty much every other place where the UK swam. Over those years, his swimmers won over 120 International Medals.
His training groups are quite small. At the time he was hired to come to Toronto, Coach Titley had only 8 swimmers under his care, but he had developed each of those to be top 10 in the world in their event.
Coach Titley has nothing but praise for the HPC-Ontario centre. He explained that it actually takes a team of people to prepare athletes for big performances, not just the coach. And this centre has every resource that they could want or need.
Regarding the relay, Coach Titley explained why training together works so well for these 4 women. He said that each is fast, and they train in a competitive environment, being challenged every day. With Penny being young,it also helps to be around the others who are mature and behave professionally. This helps her to learn how to behave. And he said that the 4 women are nice, and that makes it easy to trust and help each other, even if that means making sure homework gets done.
As a last point, he also made sure to point out that these women still have to get much faster in order to do well on the world stage. They still have a lot of work to do.
It’s pretty clear that this guy really knows what he’s doing.