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Canadian Dolphins in for training

Justin Marville

Canadian Dolphins in for training

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Apparently Bradley Ally isn’t the only Olympic hopeful that values training in Barbados.
Top international backstroke prospects and national record holders Sinead Russell and Ushi Halbreiner have brought their talents to the Aquatic Centre as the Canadian Dolphins Swim Club is back in the country as part of its annual winter training.
It’s the fifth time in six years the high performance programme of the Ontario-based club is using the country’s Olympic-sized pool for the winter out-of-season workout following their initial visit in 2006.
“We view this as our stepping stone to every international meet that we’ve gone to, from the 2008 Olympics through to the World Championships in Rome to the Commonwealth Games to last year’s World Championships,” said Sinead’s father and coach Cecil Russell while Aquatic Centre deck.
“So we come here for three weeks of intense training because the pool is great for training. The sun is generally out every day and the staff at the pool really goes out of the way to help us.
“We also get great training because we are outdoors, we can come and do our calisthenics an hour ahead of time and there’s the freedom to do it.”
Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was Russell’s son Colin who went through a similarly exacting training stint here before playing an integral part of Canada’s sixth-placed 4×100 freestyle relay team at the summer games.
But the Russell family is hoping to go a few spots better in Colin’s next go-around and behind the expected performance of his sister Sinead, who is currently ranked number seven in the world in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
The only Canadian woman to ever go under a minute in the 100 back, the 18-year-old Russell has already made her mark on the world stage after winning a silver medal at the just concluded US Nationals while being ranked No. 9 in the world.
And the teenage sensation is almost a lock for her Olympic squad, having already reached FINA A standard in both specialty events – the 100m and 200m backstroke.
“Well I want to make the finals at the Olympics and see how it goes but I have to make the Olympic team first,” said Sinead, who is also a World Championships finalist in the backstroke.
“We’ve been working a lot on turns and underwater work and that should help a lot for Olympic trials.”
It should also help that she is currently training alongside a fellow national backstroke champ in Halbreiner, who only just broke her coach’s Austrian record in the 100 back at the European Championships.
However, it was a different 100 metre event in which the 18-year-old swimmer made a big splash, having advanced to the final of the individual medley after missing out on a place in the last eight of the backstroke.
“I truly think this [training] is going to really help me in my quest to make the Olympics next year,” said Halbreiner following yesterday’s training session.
“Training with Sinead has been great because she’s a lot stronger than I am and so it helps me to compete against her.”
But the two backstroke talents aren’t the only future medal hopefuls currently training in the high performance programme, with 13-year-old Chinese age group champ Zixon Lee the top-ranked teenaged Olivia Sbaraglia being widely-regarded as top prospects.
 “It’s a great experience to have these kids coming here from young to train and embrace a new culture,” added Russell.