Strokes to success
author: ethan williams | staff writer
Cougars strong at nationals
Talk about things going swimmingly” The University of Regina Cougars swimming team had an excellent season and some athletes recently competed at the USPORTS nationals in Toronto. The men’s team finished eighth overall and the women’s team finished sixth. The Carillon had a chance to sit down with one of each team’s athletes, Brian Palaschuk and Lexy King, and discuss how things went.
How many years have you been on the swim team, and how long have you been swimming altogether?
Brian Palaschuk: It’s my second year as a Cougar, but I have been swimming with some of my Regina teammates since I started ten years ago.
Lexy King: This was my third year on the Cougar’s [swim team], but I’ve been swimming for twelve years now.
How has this season been for you guys overall? Did you set any goals for yourselves and accomplish those?
BP: So far, my season has been both good and bad as well. I had ambitious goals for USPORTS and I was a bit off, but I will be back to try again next year.
LK: The season had its ups and downs. I always set short-term and long-term goals for myself every season, but did not accomplish them all. I wanted to be faster at UPOSRTS, as I was close to personal bests, but I was still happy with my overall placings.
What do you feel helped you get to nationals?
BP: I feel I was able to get to USPORTS and have success in the sport because of an intersection between great work ethic and great coaching.
LK: Definitely the coaching staff and the program that they have structured for me. We train a lot of hours in the pool and in the gym every week to help me qualify and place top eight in my events at CanWest and USPORTS.
How did you feel getting to compete at nationals? Have you guys been there before?
BP: This was my second time competing. It’s a really fun meet for us, since it is a rested meet that is swum short course, which is different than the usual long-course pool.
LK: This was my third time at USPORTS and it’s the best meet of the year. CanWest this year was really cool because the whole team qualified, but the atmosphere at USPORTS is at another level.
So how did you guys do individually? Did you do as well or maybe even better than what you expected?
BP: I did okay, I was able to help the relay team win our first-ever USPORTS medal, but I didn’t do as well as I expected. I will be back next year better than ever.
LK: I placed around what I expected, but I thought my individual times would’ve been faster considering the times I’ve put up in practice.
How do you adjust to conditions that are different than what you would normally perform in? How do you mentally prepare for your events?
BP: Adjusting is one of the biggest challenges of the sport, and one of the things I’ve been working on over the last few years. I think it is important to remember what I have done to prepare, and focus on the controllable. Mental preparation is similar, as it is very much about adjusting to changes in expectations. I prepare a specific strategy for each race, and try to adapt to whatever happens.
LK: I’ve had a lot of experience competing in the past decade, so the conditions would have to be pretty crazy to throw off my game at USPORTS. As for mentally preparing, I just have to believe in myself and trust the training I’ve done.
Has working alongside them helped you become a better or more confident swimmer?
BP: My teammates have been crucial to my preparation and success. My two main training partners, Jacob and Etienne, train and push me every day and we all worked together to win the relay medal.
LK: Training with my teammates really adds motivation and creates a better environment in practice and competition. We push each other in sets and cheer during competitions.
You mentioned your coaches a bit earlier. How have they helped you along the way?
BP: My coach has helped me improve tremendously, and Demone is one of the main reasons I decided to swim at the University of Regina. As swimmers, our results are driven by our effort, but effort alone is usually not enough without a good coach’s guidance.
LK: My coach has been the biggest asset in my sport. He is always there to provide feedback when I need it and has a great program laid out for us.
Are you continuing with the team next year? If so, what do you hope to achieve?
BP: I will be continuing with the team next year. I hope to win an individual medal for the team at USPORTS next year and am working toward qualifying for the Canadian Senior National team.
LK: Yes, I’ll be on the team next year with the goal of medalling at USPORTS. I’ve placed fourth three years in a row in the 800-metre freestyle and I am hungry for a medal. I can’t hope the girls will be slower, so I need to train harder and come back for redemption.