Dominique Bouchard’s season-long momentum shows no signs of stopping.
After having won gold earlier in the year in Tampa Bay, Fla. as part of the Pro-Swim Series, Bouchard can now be considered one of Canada’s best in the women’s 200m backstroke following a win in the Canadian Swim Trials held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on April 4.
With a time of 2:09.05 in the finals, Bouchard solidified her season-long dominance.
The native of North Bay, Ont., swims collegiately for the University of Missouri, a decision she admits helped her greatly as an elite swimmer.
“I think one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to go into the U.S. for school was just a change of scenery,” she said. “I know that if I would have stayed in Canada, I would have been competing against the same people that I had been competing against since I was younger so I wanted to be able compete against different people.”
The 24-year-old is well aware of the young athletes who choose to stay in Canada and how well Swimming Canada develops its own performers at all ages.
“I think that right now Swimming Canada is going in a really good direction,” says Bouchard. “The recruiting process in Canada has definitely changed since I started in that they are able to retain more Canadians in Canada which is a good thing.”
Bouchard still trains in Canada at the Oakville Aquatic Centre when not attending the University of Missouri, citing her coach, Sean Baker, as the reason.
“I’ve known Sean since I was like 12, so it was just a natural progression to compete for Oakville.”
That progression has been a steady one this year, having already won a Pro-Swim Series Event, and she’s poised to make a splash in the upcoming Pan-Am Games this summer in Toronto.
However, she is conscious that elite swimming in Canada is progressing as well in popularity and intensity.
“I see it in the backstroke, a lot of the young girls are coming up and trying to beat the older girls and I think that that turn is really good,” she said. “And the new centre being built here in Toronto I think is really awesome and hopefully will entice some younger people to stay here.”
And while the bulk of Bouchard’s swimming development at this stage of her career has taken place in the States, the difference in competition for both Canada and America may simply be a numbers game and nothing else.
“They have a bigger talent pool that they can draw from, you know I don’t think it’s a good thing to compare that way.”