Nanaimo swimmer Lauren Van Oosten has just made her first Canadian National team. A second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke put her on the team to the Pan Pacs in Japan. Making the team in the 100 breast is a bonus. "I expected to make it in the 200 so this is a good surprise." Lauren is another fresh face in a field of fresh faces showing up on the podium at the nationals this summer. Two years after coach Sean Baker arrived in Nanaimo, the program is showing some exciting signs of life. "Sean has helped me see what it will take to get there, and I've learned a lot over the past two years. I am very clear on what I want to do. My recent progress has been very motivating."
At 18 Lauren is past the precocious age when many breaststrokers hit their peak. Both Samantha Riley and Penny Heyns had their big progress in their late teens. "I definitely don't want to be just a one-time thing, I'd like to stay around for a while. As an older swimmer, I want to stay focussed on training and performance, and not the social things some senior swimmers do. I used to think I might be missing something, but not any more."
Lauren has a stroke that is becoming more common these days. It seems flatter, without the large lunging strokes of the past 10 years. "My stroke is different from many people who have a rather wide stroke. I have a narrow kick and a narrow pull. I try to keep it fast and streamlined at the surface without coming up out of the water and then back down. I try to keep a more level streamlined stroke." She works hard on ankle flexibility and could demonstrate a very good range with little effort. "For leg work we do a lot of stretch cords on a kick board and vertical kicking with weights."
What does Lauren think was the most important thing for her swimming? "I think dedication and a positive mental attitude have a lot to do with success." Lauren has dropped 3 seconds off her time since Olympic Trials last year, a significant improvement. "I've had a really good training year, but I'm still a bit surprised at how much I've taken off." While she wouldn't let us in on any of her goals, the future looks bright for this young Nanaimo swimmer.