Alec Page began another journey towards the Olympics this weekend at the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Page is determined to make a splash at the Team Canada Swimming Trails, April 1-4, in hopes of bolstering his qualification times and represent Canada at the Pan Am Games in July and the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia in August.
Next year’s Olympic trails for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games will also be held at the $205-million Toronto pool, but the 21-year-old Victorian has those games on the backburner of his mind.
“Each meet is a stepping stone,” says Page. “I’m a day-to-day kind of guy, I do have big Olympic goals but I tend to go moment to moment, the hope is to improve and get faster.”
The 2012 London Olympian was the youngest (18) male swimmer representing Canada, placing 23rd in his specialty event the 400-metre individual medley. However, his training mentality has changed since then.
“You become more professional with the way you approach things like nutrition, weight program, recovery, just everything,” says the Island Swimming Club star. “You grow and mature as an athlete with experience and there is nothing that can beat that.”
Experience has changed Page’s training routines according to Ryan Mallette, an assistant coach in high performance from Canadian Sport Institute Pacific.
“With Alec, we are obviously still trying to move him forward and get better and faster,” says the coach, based out of Saanich Commonwealth Pool in Victoria. “He’s a professional so we’re not coaching him on the little things, we’re on to the next level stuff, trying to get top eight in the world.”
The next level is starting to take shape with Page.
“He now knows how to handle the pressure, he’s coming in calm, cool and collective, he’s ready to go,” says Mallette after a morning swim in Toronto.
Working together, athlete and coach develop a game plan for getting the best results.
“We develop a strategy throughout the year and my training is based around that strategy,” says the former University of Victoria swimmer. “I have it down in my head before the race starts and my coach simply says ‘you know what to do so have fun out there’ and that gives me confidence.”
As for race strategy for when you fall behind, Page again relates it all back to his training.
“Even when I make the turn in fourth, I want to still have the confidence in my training and preparation to not panic because swimming is as much a mental game as it is physical,” says the Claremont Secondary School graduate.
The next 16 months leading to Rio will be full of intense workouts for Page but his positive mindset will help him keep his head above water.
This weekend’s swim trails at the new state of the art Toronto pool should provide a tremendous Olympic like environment for both athletes and fans alike.
“We are excited about the capacity at Toronto and the atmosphere may be better than anything we’ve ever experienced domestically.”