The Revelstoke Aquaducks received a pre-season boost when a Canadian Olympian showed up to give a weekend-long swim camp this past weekend.
“These camps are really great for young swimmers because we’re trying to ingrain in them the fundamentals of swimming and getting them to think about training harder,” Scott Dickens said prior to a swim at the aquatic centre on Friday. “Working on body position, technique. Swimming properly rather than just quantity.”
Dickens grew up in Burlington, Ont. He took up swimming at the age of six and by the time he was 10, he knew he wanted to go to the Olympics. At 18, he moved to Vancouver to swim with the University of British Columbia.
“I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do and I was going to do anything in took,” he said.
Dickens competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the London Olympics in 2012. In between, he missed the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after a poor performance at the Canadian Olympic Trials, despite being ranked number one in the country. That setback made him re-think his swimming career.
“There were times when I didn’t know if I wanted to keep going forward,” he said. “It was the encouragement of my fans and my family, and me taking a break asking if I wanted to keep going.
“I still think I had more to prove to myself and I was capable of doing a lot more. If I left the sport, I would have always had that feeling of wanting to go back. After this last year, I look back and I’m thankful I kept going.
“You learn a lot about yourself when you experience a defeat like that.”
Since the 2012 Olympics, Dickens has taken a break from swimming. He’s still training, but only at half his previous level. He’s mulling whether or not he wants to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Dickens is giving these camps through the company Future Stars, which arranges camps between high-level athletes and youth clubs.
The camp featured a mix of in pool sessions, lectures and dry land training. One of the main messages he wants to get out is to make sure swimming remains fun, rather than just focusing on having best times.
“I think we lose site pretty easily when we don’t have best times of why we’re doing the sport,” he said. “I want to help them realize to make sure you control yourself, encourage your teammates and just love swimming because that’s going to carry you further in life and further in your sport.”
The Aquaducks have been training since the start of May. The first meet is June 8–9 in Salmon Arm.