Canadian Personality: Rick Say

Late Start Could Be His Advantage


Nick J. Thierry

Appearing at only his third Nationals, Rick Say started at age 7 in summer club swimming (a popular BC program), a few months a year of outdoor swimming with no more than five one-hour sessions a week.

"I played a lot of different sports in school-basketball and volleyball to name a few. I joined Island Swimming in the fall of 1997 when I enrolled at the University of Victoria."

A member of the 1998 Commonwealth Team, Rick considers his work to date strictly the aerobic build-up phase of his career. In summer clubs I was more of a sprinter.

Fast improving Rick Say
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Nick Thierry

"There's advantages and disadvantages on not having spent the last six or eight years in intensive age group training and competitions. For me the biggest advantage is my enjoyment of the sport. I don't think I'll get tired of it soon. I do feel I lack the aerobic base that is needed for a strong finish."

A medallist in both the 200 free (third with 1:51.56) and the 400 free (second with 3:57.12), Rick has been improving steadily at every championships.

Rick Say, CAN
PLACE Salmon Arm, BC
HEIGHT 6 ft. 4 in. / 195 cm
WEIGHT 190 lbs / 86 kg
REPRESENTS ISNSC / Island Swimming
COACH Ron Jacks / Peter Vizsolyi
99 Spring Nationals 3rd 200 free 1:51.56,
2nd 400 free 3:57.12
98 Commonwealths 11th 200 free 1:52.42,
4th 4x200 Free
98 Summer Nationals 3rd 200 free 1:52.77,
7th 400 free 4:05.17
98 Spring Nationals 3rd 200 free 1:54.38,
9th 400 free 4:04.51

"Just swimming faster than I have before gets me really excited. Now that I can go this fast, how much faster can I go in the future? It really excites me and that's something that I feel gives me an advantage.

"What is great about my program is the degree of independence I'm allowed. My coaches (Peter Vizsolyi at the University of Victoria and Ron Jacks at Island Swimming) guide me and allow me to work out things for myself.

"I'm looking forward to the short-course Worlds as I swim pretty well over 25 metres, and then to Pan Ams and Pan Pacs. In Hong Kong, I'd like to take aim at the Canadian records in the 200 and 400 freestyle, but above all, make it a good learning experience."

With Canada's 4 x 200 men's freestyle hopes on the rise, Rick has a legitimate shot at an Olympic team berth.

"It's really exciting to think that, having started less than two years ago, I could be going to the Olympics. It makes me train hard as the other guys will be depending on me."

Not certain of what he'll be specializing in, Rick is studying general sciences with chemistry as one major. He's just trying to find out what he likes and dislikes.

"I'm allowed to make up work that I have missed when off on a swimming trip. My professors are quite understanding.

"It's exciting to think back to Malaysia and realize I was in the pool at the same time when the Australians broke the world record in the 4x200 men's relay. Every competition I've been to is a learning experience. I'm no longer in awe of the famous swimmers but more into my own swimming."

Rick has a minor problem with shoulder pain (tendonitis), but by avoiding butterfly, it is not aggravated.

There is a constant rivalry with Mark Johnston and Brian Johns, and as they are based in B.C., there is ample opportunity for racing. "By swimming against them all the time you get to know their strengths and weaknesses."

"I think I went out a bit too hard in the 200 free. But I'll put it down as a learning exerience. In the 400, Peter's race plan worked better and I felt much better at the mid-point of that race than in the earlier 200. I let Brian Johns and Mark get out ahead, planning to stay within reach so that I could reel them in at the end." His time of 3:57.12 was a four-second drop from last summer's nationals.

Rick is C-carded as a result of last summer's 4 x 200 free relay in Malaysia, and that has eased his financial situation somewhat. Before he was carded, he had to borrow money from his family and the club in order to train last summer. He no longer has to pay tuition at the University, which is a great help. The cheques from SNC pay for the rent. He lives with other non-swimming students in a rented duplex and likes it that way in order to leave his swimming at the pool. "We don't talk swimming and that's the way I like it.

"I used to ride a bike to practice as I don't have a car. But it took too much time. I'm saving up to eventually be able to afford a car.