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Different lessons to be learned for local swimmers

Members of the Nickel City Aquatics often looked forward to practice, confident in all that they would learn.

That said, it certainly wasn't as though they anticipated becoming substantially more worldly in the past year, given the onset of COVID-19.

Thanks to the efforts of NCA head coach Linda Tenhunen, however, the young swimmers now know a little more, both in and out of the pool.

"I think the aspects of the Around the World training were really good, because we got to learn some fun facts," explained 11 year-old Quinn Cecchetto, expanding on the takeaways from the standard on-line Zoom calls and workouts which were given a bit of a twist.

"I liked hearing about Australia, partly because my friend was actually born there," she continued. "She's told me a lot about it - but what she hadn't told me is that they have some of the biggest spiders in the world - but they're one of the friendliest spiders in the world, which is really cool."

"I looked forward to the Zoom workouts - I found them fun," agreed teammate Madison Veevers, a grade 7 student at MacLeod Public School and competitive swimmer for the past eight or nine years.

"There was one country, I can't remember which one, but they have ten families that live on grasslands in the middle of the ocean."

Though the general concensus was the multi-facted teaching-training program likely had greater appeal to the younger age brackets, all of the athletes appeared to appreciate the efforts that were made to keep things interesting at a time when standard pool practices were simply not an option.

"She (Tenhunen) is doing some really interesting things," said Veevers. "For ten minutes, we would learn some things about a different country and then we would do exercises."

"The younger you are, the easier it was to be entertained; but it was still really fun."

There's no doubt the effects of the pandemic are likely the toughest on those who are just reaching that age when remaining involved in their sport becomes a more difficult decision to make, as life and other priorities become intermingled throughout the high-school years.

"Going back won't be easy," conceded 14 year old Norah Morrissey, just completing her first year of studies at Lockerby Composite. "I'm getting older, I have a job, a social life."

Still, there are elements of her training that help to make the choice anything but a slam dunk for the teen who first swam competitively at the age of seven.

"We did a summer swim program, last summer, at Moonlight Beach," she recalled. "It was a really interesting experience, partly because I had never done lake swimming like that before."

"The program really helped keep me fit - and I swim at camp during the summer."

And though it might not be completely her cup of tea, Morrissey could see the benefits of a different approach to training, one necessitated largely by circumstances outside of the control of NCA staff.

"I think it was a really good way to engage the young swimmers that had just joined the club," she said. "It wasn't super intense workouts."

The time factor also proved to be a selling point to the younger crowd. "Usually, they were a little shorter workouts, which was good, because it was usually just after dinner, or we fueled up on dinner right after the workout," stated Cecchetto.

She might even incorporate some of the drills into her own post-pandemic dryland training regimen.

"We had our yoga mat and did the mountain climber and the Russians," said the grade six student at St James Catholic Elementary School in Lively. "For the mountain climber, you do a plank but you run with your knees, so they come up towards your head."

"It's sort of like running in a plank."

"For a Russian, you get into a banana form, on your back, and you bend up so your knees and your head are at the same height," Cacciotti continued. "Then you put your hands together and go from side to side on your hips."

"I really liked the yoga, not only that we were working out, but also stretching," Veevers chimed in. "I personally do not stretch enough - I probably should."

Yet in as much as the trio have learned in a somewhat different way in these somewhat different times, there is little doubt where their hearts truly lie.

"I just think that the faster we can get back in the pool, the better we will adapt and start to get ready for swim meets and competition," said Veevers.

"I'm just really excited to start swimming again," added Cecchetto.

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