Michelle Williams knows international success hinges on perfecting her technique.
The 24 year old Canadian swimmer has been under the radar for much of her career, working hard to be considered one of the top sprinters in Canada.
A graduate of Ohio State University, Williams has been a part of Ben Titley’s High Performance Swim program since 2013 where she has been refining the smallest details of her swim stroke.
“There are days when each person has a different practice written just for them based on our needs,” said the Toronto native in an interview Tuesday evening. “It has also been a lot more technique focused.
“Two or three times a week our practice is just filming and technique work. We have a person on staff, Ryan Atkinson, who is a bio mechanist. His job is to film us and watch the angle of our hands in the water and how we are kicking under water and every little technical aspect of our stroke.”
Working on her mechanics in the pool is not something new for Williams.
A swimmer at the North York Aquatic Centre (NYAC) for much of her teenage years, her former coach, Murray Drudge, was not afraid to tweak the sprinter’s approach.
“With Michelle it was always a great challenge to get her to swim well, said Drudge in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “I was trying everything that I could think of.
“I changed her stroke from more conventional to straight-arm freestyle and she just flew. We went to the nationals and she swam 55.8 seconds in the 100-metres, she dropped so much and she made that team (Canada).
The head coach at NYAC noticed Williams when she was still a child, impressed by her intangible skills, the type all successful athletes must possess.
“I remember watching her race, and it really hit (me) that she has something special, that quality that all coaches look for, that level of drive and determination, that want to do well,” said her former coach. “It wasn’t about her technique — she was a horrible swimmer.”
It was also Drudge who recommended Williams to Ben Titley.
“With Ben I noticed it was a lot more specific, more technical,” said the proud Buckeye. “Since the group I am with now is a lot smaller, Ben has a chance to work with each swimmer on an individual basis.”
Williams quickly discovered success thanks in large part to the attention she was giving to even the smallest of details.
In 2014 she won two bronze medals as part of Canada’s freestyle and medley relay teams, an accomplishment that has only fueled her desire to succeed even more.
“I am very excited about this weekend,” said Williams about the upcoming national trials. “I’ve been swimming faster than I ever had this year, so I am pretty confident going into it and excited to show everyone what I can do.”
Knowing that swimming will not provide a livelihood, the aquatic sprinter has also excelled outside the pool. She admits that her athletic career is a big reason for her academic success.
“I think swimming is a sport that teaches you time management skills,” said Williams. “If I didn’t have swimming I wouldn’t have been such a good student.”
But retirement is the furthest thing from the Canadian’s mind. Her focus is still to improve and to perform in the water.
“My goal is the 2016 Olympics and I will take it from there; see how my swimming is going and how I am improving. I don’t believe that I have reached my peak yet so I’m not going to hang it up until I reach that.”