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Making Waves: Martin Gingras Pointe Claire Swim Club

Jul 19, 2014  - Delano Ducheck

Since its inaugural season back in 1966, Pointe Claire Swim Club has put 16 swimmers onto 10 different Olympic teams. From World Record holders and Olympic medalists, some of Canada’s finest racers have swum under the PCSC banner. In his second year as head coach of Pointe Claire, Martin Gingras is putting together a fine repertoire of racers to continue the club’s legacy.


With a young “senior” group averaging 17 years old, Gingras continuously talks about preparing his athletes with greater and greater challenges. His young crew of swimmers is responding. James Guest, Antoine Bujold, Olivia Paskulin all made the World Junior team in Dubai last year. Guest and Matthew Ackman followed up with a spot on the Junior Pan Pacs team this summer.

Energetic and positive, Gingras shares the success of the club’s achievements giving a lot of credit to his assistant coaches, “we’re young and not as experienced, but we’re enthusiastic, positive and pay attention to details.” Not to mention innovative. Gingras and his staff have introduced a novel idea of separating the 12&U boys and girls into different groups during their formative swim years before merging together at 13 years old. This one major change has allowed his staff to train the groups differently: boys are trained through play and racing, where as the girls are trained through challenge.

Gingras shared his thoughts on the Top 5 things you can do outside of the pool so you can swim faster in it:

  1. Recovery: After a hard training session, the most important thing you can do is start the recovery process so you can come back the next day refreshed and refueled for another session. Along with healthy eating and a good night’s sleep, Gingras insists on using a foam roller to speed up recovery. Foam rollers are a cheap way to deliver a daily massage, and helps breakdown scar tissue (muscle knots) that build up during training. And besides it feels good. Gingras’ swimmers all have their own rollers and they’re expected to travel with them and use them during swim meets and camps.

  2. Mental Preparation: Mental preparation is laying the foundation to set yourself up for success, or in Gingras’ words, “finding the way to rise.” What can you do to mentally prepare yourself before a swim meet begins? Gingras seems to constantly challenge his group by setting up obstacles that swimmers need to surmount. Before the Speedo Cup in California, Gingras chose the latest flight possible so his swimmers had to deal with jet lag as well as time change. His swimmers had to find their own answers to deal with the situation and still swim fast at the meet. It came down to preparation.

  3. Race Strategy: Swimmers don’t succeed because they’re lucky. They succeed because they set goals and work towards those goals. There’s a path for the time you want to achieve. Six months before a major competition Gingras meets with each of his swimmers and together they develop a race plan: goal time, splits, stroke count, stroke rate. For the next six months his swimmers train the plan and see if they can achieve their targets in different training conditions. Once you’ve trained the plan you can race the plan.

  4. Life Balance: A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer. But when all your energy is focused on swimming it’s too easy to throw off the balance, and not focus on other aspects of your life. It’s important to be focused, but taking it too far causes frustration and intense stress. Gingras has a simple yet effective questionnaire that his swimmers assign numbers to various aspects of their lives: activity, school, family, friends, swimming. The goal then becomes: How can I swim fast while maintaining a healthy life balance?

  5. Celebrate The Baby Steps: The swim season is a long season with many meets and training sessions. You have to celebrate the accomplishments no matter how small and stay on the right path towards your ultimate goal. Gingras directs all his coaches to focus on the positive, “at a swim meet we talk about the positives first, then what they need to work on, this has made our swimmers happier and they’ve been swimming faster.