WE’RE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE

We’re BACK!!!

We had a crazy couple of weeks in Quebec and it honestly went by SO fast!

For those who follow our Team Instagram (if you don’t follow @artswimcanada, go do that now!!) we started off this year in STYLE with a three week bootcamp in Stoneham, QC.

During the course of this camp there were so many different and exciting activities on the agenda. Four days a week we did 5am runs, MANY kilometres of speed swimming and weight lifting, as well as doing different classes in the afternoons, such as:

  • kata training
  • pound
  • break dancing
  • acro yoga etc…

During our shorter days we did an outdoor activity like:

  • kayaking/canoeing
  • hiking
  • highlight training, etc.

Another fun part of camp was that we were all living together. There were six people to a house and each house had to tend for themselves. We did all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and chilling together… We celebrated three birthdays, had team BBQ’s and watched inspirational movies… In other words,Β  it was a three week team building adventure!

We also had a nutritionist come to give us tips and pointers about our meals. She shared some of her favourite recipes with us and we shared ours. We planned our meals based on what we had in the fridge, either throwing it all in the crockpot or cooking it after our final workout of the day! Either way we did it, it was a great experience and I think a lot of us learned more about what we could cook when we are strapped for time (which is super important when you train!!)

Here is a quick look at what we did on DAY ONE!

5:30AM – wake up

5:45AM – meet at the cars

6:00AM – RUN (in the rain….. and all the puddles haha)

* side note: this camp we were told that rain, shine, volcano, tsunami, tornado whatever we will be running LOL

6:30AM – cook breakfast (+ COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE)

9:30AM – 11:00AM – SWIM (3km) with a T-shirt on!

11:15AM – 12:30PM – WEIGHT LIFTING

12:30PM – drive home and get ready to cook lunch!

1:00PM – FAJITASSSSSS (YUM)

1:30PM – 3:45PM – BREAK/NAP

3:45PM – drive back to Quebec City

4:30PM – 6:00PM – KATA CLASS (which is an amazing workout)

6:30PM – start making CHILI LIME PORK with broccoli, rice and salad πŸ™‚

8:00PM – spend some time soaking in the hot tub and relaxing.

……….

Overall, I pushed myself to my limits at this camp and I am so proud. I honestly didn’t think I could have gone further out of my comfort zone – especially when it came to running… but we did it, we all survived and now we just had a much needed break to spend Thanksgiving with our families!

So to end this blog – Part 1 of this new season is COMPLETE! I look forward to seeing what’s next for us and enjoying our next few weeks as we prepare to create some new routines for this Olympic year!

 

 

Here are some shots of the camp!Β 

 

HOW TO: PURSUE YOUR DREAMS & ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

Life is a series of steps. Things to do, places to go, goals to reach. Nothing would have ever been achieved unless a person said, “I want to do …… {this}” or “I want to do …..{that}”

I was never a good goal setter. I knew my long term goals. Those are the ones that are set…. maybe a few months or even years in advance. I knew that I wanted to go to the Olympics. AKA: LONG TERM GOAL #1. And to get there I would have to do a series of things that would take me closer to my goal.

NOW. You may think that what I’m saying is easy, but sometimes you fall off the ladder or fall down a couple of steps… Now what? Do you give up?

HELL NO!!

You have put in the training and the time. You’ve done what you thought would get you to where you needed to be… Now what you need to do is take a step back and re-evaluate…  Was your goal realistic? Did you give yourself enough time to achieve it? Did you do ABSOLUTELY everything in your power to achieve it (Extra workouts and all)?

From here, you adjust the ‘plan’, or ‘journey’ as I like to say, because honestly being an athlete is a lot (and I mean a lot) of trial and error. Some things will work, others won’t, but with the setbacks and obstacles you face, you are no further from achieving your goal – you’re just taking a different path to get there.

Setting a goal is like baking a loaf of bread without the yeast. It’s there. It’s something you can see and touch, but not something you would bite into…. Now if you decide that you will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal and do everything in your power to work towards it, then you’re looking at a fluffy, tasty, fresh baked bread that you can enjoy!

Part of having a goal is the process of getting there. The journey may be a straight line – some minor bumps along the way, but generally decent – or it could be a winding and twisting road that seems to never end…. it doesn’t matter the path you create in your head, what matters is how you adjust your plan so that you are always looking towards your end goal.

Nothing is ever perfect – if it has been for you then I’m amazed and I give you a virtual high 5 – but really, for most of us, we are constantly faced with a new challenge. It could be an injury, your personal life, a family emergency or even the weather…. We never know what’s going to happen outside of our “plan”, but what we do know is that we can overcome those obstacles and it might even make us stronger (actually it will – I have some experience with that…)

If there’s one last thing that I can say about going out there to achieve your goal, it’s to……….. DREAM BIG! Do what you want with your dream and never let anyone tell you you CAN’T. You can achieve anything if you set your mind to it, as long as you put those thoughts into ACTION.

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This blog was inspired by listening to a former coach, now teacher, Shannon! Thank you for your words of wisdom!

KOREA

Happy Throwback Thursday!! 😊

Now that I’ve written about Pan Ams and about my past World Championships, I think it is time to write about one of the best experiences I’ve had as a National Team athlete.

Korea itself was wonderful. For the first time at a FINA World Championships we were in a village, with all different athletes and sports, similar to what we would experience at the Games. 

Tech Team – Korea 2019

Our coaches were smart and had us training to compete, not just training to train – something that I hadn’t done in previous years. We knew that Lima would be our primary focus as it was to be our Qualifying Event for the Olympic Games and that is where we put our energy – saving our peek performances for the final swims on July 31st.

Jackie and I after Tech Duet

As athletes, we sometimes think that the more we do the better. That the extra hour or extra repetition will make us better…. But what I learned through my time in Korea – the days of constant competition – is that you’ve already put in the work! The training has been completed to prepare you physically for a competition of this size and magnitude. Now all you have to do is show up, warm up and then go out there and CONFIDENTLY show the world what you have done.

The best part of this whole process is that in the end, I too trusted that I had done the job to prepare myself – the countless hours of training, the thousands of repetitions and the years of experience… I’ve done it all, now I just need to remember (even when I feel stressed) to trust my coach, trust myself and calm my nerves because yes, I still get nervous even after all these years!

Free Duet – Korea 2019

We performed each day better than the day before and I left Korea feeling so proud of the team that arrived in Montreal just a few months earlier. Since January, we had so much to overcome and so much to learn in such a small amount of time. We went from 12 individuals of all different ages, to a team that shared a common experience. A team that was confident and prepared to perform on the world stage.

Free Team – Korea 2019

I will always remember watching them as they prepared in the last call room prior to the first team swim. We had just done our focus circle and after a pep talk, I looked in each of their eyes and I saw excitement. Not nerves, just excitement! They were ready – I knew it and they knew it.

Though I could share a hundred more things about the duet and the other team events, this moment was so important. They might not know it, but I do! It was the moment we became a trusting team and it was a moment that we blended together as one unit.

 

 

Thank you to my amazing teammates! We’ve been though one hell of a year and I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you – starting this week in Stoneham, QC!

TEAM CANADA 2019

EMILY ARMSTRONG

CATHERINE BARRETT

ANDREE-ANNE COTE

CAMILLE FIOLA-DION

REBECCA HARROWER

CLAUDIA HOLZNER

AUDREY JOLY

SION ORMOND

HALLE PRATT

KENZIE PRIDDELL

JACQUELINE SIMONEAU

CASSANDRA WINKELAAR

7 YEARS, 4 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

As you know, because of the obvious title, I have now been to 4 FINA World Championships, each having it’s own specific moments that have made them special. I have been planning to write about these for some time now, SO today I will share a little moment from each of them with you!

Enjoy!!

………………………………….

At my first Worlds in 2013, which was held in Barcelona, we had this incredible moment in the Combo final. We had just finished our performance and it was the best swim we could have ever delivered.

At the end of our Queen themed routine the lights dimmed to a deep blue colour and we stepped onto the platform to receive our marks. We waited and heard a roar of boos. Our marks were, to the audience, too low for what they thought we deserved. As we turned to walk away the entire side of a 17,000 person stadium stood up, gave a huge roar and a standing ovation.

That year I also had my 3rd concussion and this was the only routine I was able to swim…. Just 2 weeks earlier it was decided that I could compete the Combo. It was a moment that made my year of pain turn to something so worth it.

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Competing in the Combo final in Barcelona 2013

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2 years later, we would be competing at the World Championships in Kazan. This one was different because I was swimming in the tech team, the free team and the combo, but somehow I was less stressed than the time before.

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Walking on for Free Team – Kazan 2015

We had just come from winning the Pan Am Gold Medal, which was the highest moment in my career, but with that we had many last minute changes between the two competitions. There were injuries to teammates and some serious issues that we had to work through.

We swam and once again we had an interesting moment in the combo. We got ready to walk on and looked around…. The “roof”, which was actually covering only a small section of the pool, was leaking. Judges had rain ponchos, umbrellas and all other sorts of useful things to keep them dry while audience members looked soaked in the stands. We started by jumping into the pool…. soon realizing that we were swimming in a fog. The steam from the pool and the chilly air had made a thick layer of white. Swimming the routine, egg beatering without much sight, but boosting just high enough to be above the cloud, everything was clear.

That day the speakers were out as well. There was no sound underwater other than the crackling of the speaker. During our swim, every chance we got, we signaled to our coach that there was no more sound —- evidence in the picture hahaha

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Combo Final – Kazan 2015…. don’t know who made this hahaha πŸ˜‚

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In Budapest in 2017, I had the opportunity of competing the duet as well as the team. Something I’ve been working towards for a very long time, but never thought it would come to pass.

This was my first time swimming outside since 2012 and it was so hot out there!!! The dark blue of the deck burnt our feet like hot lava and the pool itself was in the middle of a canal beside a castle. It was the most beautiful venue I’ve ever had the pleasure of competing in. So open and mesmerizing!

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Tech Duet – Budapest 2017

It was the least stressful competition I’ve been to, though I was swimming more routines than I had 2 years before. We did our own thing, just like practice. For 5 weeks we had been training together and now we were on a hot stage, under the summer sun and competing for Canada. There isn’t a feeling much better than that.

For the team, we were a mix of “veterans” and “newbies.” I still remember watching them get ready for the swim, with excited yet nervous looks on their faces. 2017 was a tough one for the team and seeing them look at the crowded stands, smile, re-focus and open up to all the joy that can come from competing on the World Stage… it was just amazing!

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Day 1 of training at the Venue – Budapest 2017

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And finally, World Championships in Korea, which just ended a few weeks ago!! Though this experience deserves a post in itself, here’s a sneak peak πŸ˜‰:

Tech Team – Korea 2019

What an awesome competition!! This year was a challenging year, not just because we had a new team but because we really had to learn a lot from each other and about each other as we prepared for the Pan Am Games.

Trust is super important for all teams and that’s what we had to build….. And I think we’ve done it!! This World Championships I saw things that I could only describe as growth and pride.

Final Preparations – Korea 2019

This team arrived in January, barely knowing each other. Now, we are a confident team that is proving ourselves and showing what we are capable of each and every step of the way! Worlds is a big competition and these women handled it like pros!

Tech Duet – Korea 2019

I couldn’t be more happy with our performances in all of the events. We truly went out there ready to show the world what we can bring to the table and continued to shine throughout the competition! This World Championships was amazing in so many ways – even just being able to live in the Athlete Village was special – but all in all it was this unified sense of calm as well as the strength and resilience of my new teammates that made this one special!

 

 

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If you would like to hear more about my experiences, or have questions you would like me to answer on the blog – use the contact form below! xo

WE QUALIFIED FOR THE OLYMPICS!!

WOW.

That is the first word that comes to mind when I think back to Lima.

Just WOW.

I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now…. thinking about how I would describe July 31st. My feelings, the experience, the realization that I have qualified 2 spots for the Olympics…. Just wow.

I’m amazed.

This has been a moment I have been dreaming about – even day-dreaming about – for 17 years now. And it didn’t disappoint, though I am still sinking it all in!

Qualifier 2016

After not qualifying with the team in 2016, I have to be honest and share that, in the back of my mind, I was always worried or nervous that I would experience the same pain, the same heartbreak again. With the ups and downs of the last few years, I can also say that the thought of it happening again past through my mind more often than I wanted it to and more often than I care to admit.

The experience the team and I had in 2016, changed me as a person and as an athlete – I would like to say that it made me better; that it made me grow. Being so close and just missing the Games is something that I don’t wish upon anyone and I wouldn’t want to go through it again!

GOLD Toronto Pan Am Games 2015

Now, 4 years after winning gold in Toronto, I came home with two more gold medals, some amazing performances and I can finally say that I got that damn Olympic ticket I’ve been working for, for so long.

I am still processing all of the information, the excitement and the overwhelming amount of love and support I received from the people who were there with us in Lima as well as people around the world through social media. This journey has been a long one and now that it has finally come to be, my brain still can’t fully understand this truly amazing thing that happened at the Pan Am Games.

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There were so many beautiful moments, but one that stands out so clear in my mind is just after the Technical Duet. Jackie and I were so calm, yet so excited. We dove into the water and just did our routine the way we knew we could. We came out of the pool knowing that we had had the swim that would put us in a good position to win gold.

After seeing the scores, our highest of the season, we immediately knew that we had done it. We started to hug, I cried (as usual haha) and we went to hug our coach who was also tearing up.

Two days later we would be fighting for gold in the free duet. This would be the one! We waited in the final call room while the swimmers before us performed. In the final minute before walking on, our coach looked us in the eyes and said β€œJackie go for #2, Claudia come out of that pool an Olympian.” (😭)

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July 31st. β€œCelebrate” was the word of the day and that is exactly what we did. After duet, the team played music, laughed, shared stories, went walking and just enjoyed what would be our final performance together.

If there’s one thing I can say about performing at this level…. “When you know, you know.” After swimming the routine thousands of times and spending 10 hours a day with the same people, you sense when something didn’t work or when it was an off performance, but on that day, we knew we had done it. We had trusted each other to do the job and just enjoyed the swim.

As athletes, as competitors, we are always striving to be better, stronger, faster and we had done just that. We trusted the process, trusted our staff and trusted each other to get us through to the end so that we could proudly sing the National Anthem while standing on top of that podium.

πŸ“· Christopher Morris / COC

QUALIFIED has a nice ring to it and though it’s taken me weeks to even think about writing about my experience – I still have yet to soak up all of the excitement and the realization that the Olympics is not just a dream anymore……. it is REAL!!!

I am so proud of this team!

I am so excited! 🀩

And I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for us. πŸ’ͺ🏼

 

 

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COMPETITIONS ON COMPETITIONS

Hey there πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Soooooooo. For those of you who may follow me beyond this blog (or on social media), you know that I’ve been traveling and competing A LOT. To be honest, at the beginning of this year, I really thought I would be able to keep up and write about each trip, but clearly that didn’t happen…… so I’m making up for it now, kinda, by wrapping up this years 6 FINA World Series Events!

So far we have competed in Greece, Japan, China, the USA, Canada AND Budapest for the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Super Final!

It’s been crazy busy and sometimes I honestly didn’t know what day it was, let alone the date – forget it I just found out it is July πŸ˜‚…..

Anyway…… these last few months have come with challenges, goals and accomplishments. As a new team in January we were not sure how the year would go, but we are learning more about each other and it’s pretty clear to us that this tactic of competing often is one that has brought us closer together. It’s been a learning process. In each competition we have had different preparations and have tested many possible situations….

And now, without further ado, here is my mini summary of each Event!

GREECE – I already wrote about, because I clearly had some extra energy back then, but if you missed it HERE IT IS!

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TEAM CANADA @ THE ACROPOLIS

JAPAN – We were in Japan for quite a while and was welcomed with open arms when we arrived in Suzuka for our training camp. In this time period, we visited places around the Prefecture, trained with some of the athletes, met students from different schools and of course trained hard!

We arrived up to Tokyo, confident and ready to show better than we had in Greece! We had some great performances and others that we wanted to work on. All in all, a good start again!

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TRAINING IN SUZUKA

CHINA – Opening our tour in China, we went to the Great Wall where we hiked and saw the most beautiful sceneries!

The competition was at the end of a 5 week trip! We always knew it was going to be one of our tougher ones, just because of the physical toll it would take, but we still came out with performances we could be proud of!

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AFTER OUR PERFORMANCES IN CHINA

USA – the states was a different one for sure! Jackie and I had gone with Denise Sauve and were only there in Duet. It was a different experience, as we could take the time to fine tune our routines and really put all of our energy into those two performances!

It was a fun experience, spending time with people from other countries and meeting old friends again! Another competition where we would come out with better performances, a lot of positive comments and improvements!

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JACKIE AND I IN THE STATES

QUEBEC – Quebec was a home crowd – and nothing beats a Canadian cheering squad!! πŸ˜‰ We trained through the week, pushing ourselves as hard as we could to keep improving and it worked! We came out with some great performances and some new high scores in our routines, including a 90.1 in our free duet!

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QUEBEC

BUDAPEST – After 5 World Series Events around the world, we were invited to the Super Final where we competed 2 solos, 2 duets and 3 team events.

We took many risks, going into each performance with clear goals and objectives, again testing ourselves as we prepare our routines for the World Championships and the Pan Am Games later this summer!

In the end, it was a super exciting week, as we are officially the first-ever FINA World Series Champions!! πŸ†

FINA WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

After a few weeks in Canada, we are en route to KOREA!!! I am super excited to see the venues, be in the Village, meet other athletes and compete with this group – as most of them will be experiencing World Championships for the 1st time!

Thank you for reading and if you would like to follow our progress in Korea, watch LIVE on FINA TV 😘

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