ETOBICOKE - Only days after the Atlanta Olympics finished, Canada's Olympic team was back in the pool at the Maritime Life Nationals. For some it was the final yawn of a long season. Others were happy just to have a good time, in and out of the pool.
For backstroker Chris Renaud this was the opportunity to make ammends on the disappointment of Atlanta. He finished 18 th in the 100 and 10 th in the 200 backstrokes.
With the pressure off he showed what might have been. His Canadian record swim of 1:59.81 would have been fourth at the Olympics. And in the heat of the race it might have been even better.
Renaud was happy with the time but not the timing.
"It was about a week too late, but hey, life goes on."
It was the top individual performance of the championships.
Men's high scoring awards were shared by Curtis Myden and Yannick Lupien. A tired but happy Myden was happy to help University of Calgary clinch another team title by a mere 15 points. "I'm a bit tired from the whole Atlanta experience. The swimming was great but it was a little draining. I am having a good time here swimming in breast and fly in addition to I.M."
Yannick Lupien, 16, CAGRA was surprisingly strong in winning the 100-200 double and tied for first in the 50 free. This was a far cry from his Trials swims in April, when he failed to reach finals in any of these same events.
Iron lady performance for
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
For Jessica Deglau, it was a veritable iron lady performance, with seconds in the 200-400 free, a fourth in the 100 fly and a win in her specialty the 200 fly. She then swam key legs in all four Pacific Dolphin's winning relays.
Swimming/Natation Canada wanted the Olympic team participating in these championships. "One of the main benefits of having the Olympic team here is that the up-and-coming swimmers have a chance to rub shoulders with their role models," said Dave Johnson head coach of the Olympic team and in charge of high performance.
In 1992 the Canadian championships were held before the Olympics, but SNC decided a post Olympic nationals would showcase the sport to a more appreciative audience.
"We wanted to celebrate the performance of the team. There is a certain responsibility to the association and to the sponosrs," Johnson said.
Since attendance wasn't exactly optional, Joanne Malar explained, "Personally I would have preferred if we had a choice, but it was made pretty clear we had to show up and swim in our main events."
"I'm not taking this very seriously. I'll compete in one event and that's it. I'm just here to say hello," Malar said.
For Marianne Limpert the Olympic silver medallist it was just a matter of holding on. "I've been swimming once a day for two weeks. I did have a good time here."
The 23-year-old was in Fredericton after returning from Atlanta and had to contend with a hectic week including celebrations, where they renamed a street after her. She isn't letting the publicity get to her.
Her priority is to get her degree in languages. She spent time with the German team during the Olympics, working on her skills in that language and felt she spoke passable French when interviewed by a Quebec television network. She isn't ready to retire yet.
"I'll continue swimming for another couple of years and maybe Syndey 2000."
It's not certain that the medals will translate into endorsement dollars for Curtis and Marianne just yet.
One public relations pro feels their patience with fans bodes well for Canada's two big pool heroes.
A spokesperson for Maritime Life, the sponsor of national competitions for SNC said, "Curtis and Marianne are wonderful to deal with, because they are so well-grounded and understand the needs of a corporate sponsor."
During the week of the nationals Myden and Limpert have been attending receptions and autograph sessions at a pace some athletes would find annoying. "At a relaxed meet like this, I don't mind it at all."