On day one in Gold Coast Australia for Pan Pacs I met up with my two coaches who each made the trip to Australia on their own. Takeo Inoki who coached me for three years came from Hong Kong to sit in the stands and watch. It was so good to see him. I vividly remember when I was 13-14 and he had me train as though I was going to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. We trained for 2 years with only 2 weeks off and only 1 taper per year. Christmas camps, Spring break camps and even a 3 week high altitude camp in southern China. You might remember that Rebecca Soni won the gold medal with a 2:22 that year. Aaannndddd I didn’t even qualify for the meet in Canada used to determine who got to go to Beijing. I ended that year with a 2:41 which was a zillion miles away from where we were aiming but it was good enough for a Canadian age group gold. (I was beyond happy.) A pretty big deal in these parts. Takeo stressed the importance of swimming with perfect technique every set/stroke/race especially when exhausted. I didn’t taper in season for him because “we aren’t training to beat teenage girls from Penticton….different plan.” is how he would explain it to me. It’s more realistic if you go back and read that with a Japanese accent with the volume turned up high. Everything was measured including my weight, body fat, sugar intake, sleep, hydration. Everything that could be measured was measured then analyzed. One day in Kelowna I was on a boat in the lake. It was a Wednesday after our grueling Tuesday set of 30x100s getting late and I decided to skip practice. I sent the obligatory text thinking it wouldn’t be that big a deal because I never missed practice. Well, long story short it was a bid deal. When we brought the boat in a few hours later seeing him waiting for me on shore with smoke coming out his ears. He drove me to the pool and I did the Wednesday set after listening to the lecture of how missing a workout in 2008 will have an impact in 2018. People either loved or hated him but the man certainly was dedicated.
Emil Dimitrov made the trip to Australia from Kelowna to sit in the stands and watch also. He became my coach in Kelowna soon after Takeo left. Emil is an odd sort of duck too. I mean that in a good way. I remember in Winnipeg at Age Group Nationals (remember, a bid deal in these parts) in 2010 he had me do long workouts in the Pan Am Games pool between prelims and finals instead of going back to hotel and sleeping because nationals were coming up the next week. He could have had a few hours off away from the pool, but he subscribed to the same theory as Takeo I guess, and decided it would be more of a challenge to race at night if I was swimming tired. Long story short again, didn’t win in Winnipeg but probably learned a lesson or two. While my teammates were making the obligitory trip to the Winnipeg mega-mall after prelims I had to stay and swim because Emil had long term plans. He’d shout in his thick Bulgarian accent “You can’t be a princess and go to mall and put on makeup and la la la la la and be champion at same time”. Takeo and Emil came from totally different backgrounds but both sacrificed short term victories because there was something bigger awaiting sometime in the distant future.
While warming up in the Gold Coast pool getting ready for my 200 it hit me like a sledgehammer that Takeo taking me from the lake and making me do Wednesday’s workout and Emil having me stay at the Winnipeg pool all afternoon were a means to an end. And this was probably the end they were talking about all those years!!! Today was the distant future! I was up against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fastest ranked swimmers in the world so I guess they could be the “not-training-to-beat-girls-from-Penticton” swimmers Takeo was referring to years ago. There wasn’t any nervousness before my races….at least no more than usual. Both Emil and Takeo wished me well and as I went to race under the floodlights for the last session of the meet. They both said they were just there to enjoy the meet and if they were nervous they didn’t show it. If I had DQd or if the 2013 version of me showed up I think they would both be there afterwards with proud goofy grins congratulating me. Long story short again… I swam a 2:23 which was good enough for 4th place. This is a long way from a year ago in Saskatoon when I went 2:28 to finish the year and the train seamed to be derailing. Still 4th place and out of the medals but we’ll all figure out how to get there eventually. We all said our quick good byes afterwards and were able to briefly enjoy the moment together before getting on airplanes again. I’m not sure if the 3 of us will get to enjoy something like that ever again but I can’t express how grateful I am that they both made the trip.
Im back in Minneapolis now. Up next is Short Course World Championships in Doha, Qatar in December. I haven’t swam a SCM meet since 2011 so I am excited to have that opportunity and an opportunity to represent Canada again this year.
I’m going to re-focus on doing better in the 182.88 metre breaststroke at NCAAs in March. Then take about 10 days to figure out long course metres before Trials next April.
Follow me on Twitter… @kierras
September 12, 2014