It’s a long road to Tokyo and the next Olympic Games but if you’re serious about it, you better be working on it. Now.
That’s exactly what Jonathan Dieleman is doing in the pool. He crushed three national records a few weeks ago in Kitimat and despite battling that crazy cold that’s been going around, he got enough practice in to perform well at his next meet.
That has to be an understatement.
In a specially arranged event, Dieleman managed to set a Canadian record in the 200 breaststroke for his Paralympic classification at the Prince George Medical Northern swim meet last weekend. His new mark was 4:27.55.
That’s a new mark by a minute and eight seconds. On the way, he reset a record for the 100 metre distance that he had just performed in Kitimat.
“We were pretty sure that I would get the 200 time based on what I was able to do in practice recently,” he said, “but the 100 split was a surprise. I didn’t think I had that speed right now.”
Meet management set up a special event during a break in the competition that had the announcer calling the race and Dieleman swimming against the clock .
“It was quite exciting. None of those kids had seen anything like that before and they really got into it. They were cheering him on the whole way and I think he responded by digging in a little deeper. He’s quite an amazing athlete,” said his coach, Tom Best.
Last week was an exciting one for Dieleman as he prepared for the attempt. He had also received the final paperwork from Swim Canada concerning his national team status which has been solidified by his international standing in his best event — the 100 breaststroke — when he moved up the list to third place in the world.
The 200 breaststroke is rarely offered at international meets since it is not a part of the Paralympic schedule. As a result, it is hardly ever swum by athletes in his category.
At the meet, just before he did the 200 breaststroke, Dieleman was checking to see what the world record was.
“When I saw what it was, I said holy cow, or something like that, and motioned for Tom to come over. He said the same thing. It was only three seconds faster than what I was trying for,” said Dieleman.
Even though the time was well under that time, it will not qualify as a world record. Those records have to be performed in international sanctioned meets.
“We’ll take it,” said Dieleman. “It shows that our training plan is on track. The main event for me is the 100 since that’s what I’ll be swimming in Tokyo. That’s almost two years down the road and right now I have to be working on building endurance and good technique.”
Next up for Dieleman is the US National meet in mid-December. Dieleman will be training in Phoenix, Arizona during the winter months and he feels that will be a big benefit since he won’t have to worry about slippery roads and cold weather.
“I have a place just a few blocks from the outdoor pool I’ll train at. I’ll also be able to use my hand-bike to get around,” he said.
Next summer, he plans on attending the World Aquatic Championships in South Korea. Between then and now he has a number of contests including the World Championships Trials in Toronto in April.
The meet also had members of the local Otters in attendance. When he team goes outside the region, they are part of the Points North team comprised of an amalgam of swimmers from Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace and Bulkley Valley.
At this meet that team had over 40 swimmers in attendance.
“It makes it possible for us to have relays and to be competitive as a group when we do that,” said Best. “We have to compete against teams that have over 300 swimmers sometimes and we just don’t have those numbers. Each one of our teams has a few very good swimmers and when we can put them together on a relay for example, we become competitive. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming.”
This meet had just over 200 competitors in all from six different teams.
Best said he was very satisfied with the performance of the Bulkley Valley swimmers.
“The kids were all very close to best times that they have ever done and they were very good on trying to achieve the technical goals we’ve been working on. Starts and turns were very well done. And the kids were very good about being able to tell me what they think they can do better. That kind of focus on the performance instead of just the result is very important for these youngsters and will help them a lot more in the long term,” he said.
Two swimmers qualified for a special event which was held at the meet. Based on their performance in the 200 medley, a combination of the four competitive strokes, Kanna Kurihara and Zach Durnin were asked to swim in the Eliminator.
”I think they were the youngest swimmers in the event and they did a good job even though they were knocked out of the event after a couple of rounds,” said Best.
Next up for the team is a regional meet in Prince Rupert in December.