As I write this, I’m sat watching my 10 year old ‘kid’ do her usual 2 hour swimming training. She trains for 2hrs a day, 6 days a week. The only difference today, is that once a week, she travels 30 miles each way to the Manchester Aquatics Centre – which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. It’s a wonderful facility and a chance for her to train in a 50m pool rather than the usual 25m, ‘short course’. It builds stamina and tests endurance over a longer distance. The session sees them swimming in excess of 120 lengths – I’m tired just watching.
It’s a strange environment as the ‘training pool’ is directly underneath the main aquatics pool – almost buried in a ‘crypt’. There are no windows and with only 4 lanes wide, it certainly concentrates the mind.
Symbolically, as you make your way down the stairs to pool, the walls are covered with photographs of British Olympic swimmers and the medals they’ve won – it’s a fantastic way to visually motivate each and every individual swimmer. Once you arrive in the ‘crypt’, there’s a digital board with a second by second countdown clock providing a visual display of the number of ‘days to Rio 2016’. Now that’s inspirational!
Canada has a worldwide reputation for sports, having hosted the Winter Olympics on 2 occasions and the Summer Olympics once. Canadian swimmers are up there on the world stage as some of the very best. This year alone, they are 9th in the world rankings out of 45. It boasts a superb level of investment in facilities as well as the sheer range of sporting opportunities for Canadians to participate. In a recent study about the level of children’s activity in sports, 84% of Canadian kids aged 3 – 17yrs participate in some type of sports with 60% doing it on an organised basis. Given the clear health benefits of undertaking physical activity and adopting healthier lifestyles, this is clearly reassuring.
One of the ‘conditions’ my oldest ‘kid’ requires as part of our relocation to Canada, is for a ‘very good swimming team’ which she can join and continue to train with as part of her desire to be a leading competitive swimmer. She’s most concerned that in her time away from the UK, if she doesn’t enter competitive swimming galas, she won’t receive ‘official’ times for any of her strokes across a variety of distances – these provide a direct and immediate comparison of how well she’s progressing, and how well she compares with others. Without a doubt, she’ll be keen to join the Edmonton swimming club and become an active member as soon as possible after our arrival.
Now, serious swimming aside, those who have read our ‘Canadian Bucket List’ will have spotted item number 32 which is ’to visit the largest swimming pool in the world’. I stand corrected – it’s actually the second largest (after Germany) and is based in Edmonton, Canada. It opened in 1986 and is the second largest waterpark in the world. In terms of key stats, it hosts a maximum of 40,000 guests, has an average temperature of 28 Celsius, and has the world’s largest indoor wave pool with a capacity of 12.3 million litres. That’s huge. It covers 5 acres, is one single pool, and harbours 23 water slides – offering different levels of adrenaline ‘hits’ and there’s a least one to suit every age and swimming capability. As a form of entertainment and enjoyment, it’s a ‘must do’ and just goes to show what Canada can offer is on epic proportions.
Looking up from my laptop, the training session is nearing completion and whilst there’s an element of tiredness kicking in, as the kids make their way out of the pool, they are chatting away, clearly invigorated by the exercise and smiles all round.
I’m smiling too 🙂