From left to right: Paige Kovacs

From left to right: Paige Kovacs

Olympian advice

Janna Kovaks, Garnett Currie and Brad Swyers of the Waveriders swim club soaked up advice from Canadian Olympic swimmer, Joanne Malar.

Canadian Olympic swimmer, Joanne Malar dished out some important swimming tips and advice and three swimmers from Quesnel soaked it all up.

Janna Kovaks, 12, Garnett Currie, 11 and Brad Swyers, 12, of the Waveriders swim club, were selected to attend the Swim BC seminar in Prince George based on their performances last season.

Malar was in Prince George with Swim BC’s NCCP Coaching Director Chad Webb and Swim BC’s Technical Director Mike Flagel.

“She’s nice,” Kovacs, a Grade 7 student at Dragon Lake Elementary, said of Malar.

“She helped me with my butterfly [stroke], she said I have to keep my head down.”

For Swyers, it was a second experience with Malar, but he was still impressed and appreciative, especially considering she had given him tips on how to improve his breast stroke.

“She told me to make a long glide and have a stronger kick,” Swyers said was the advice he received last year from Malar.

“I’m doing way better than I was last year.”

In addition to sharing swimming tips, Malar also shared her life story, the ups and downs of a successful career as a swimmer that began with a dream when she was seven-years old.

“When she said that, you looked around the room and you could see they were thinking maybe their dream wasn’t too big,” Waveriders swim coach Jeritt Brink said.

“It opened up their dreams.”

For Swyers, Malar’s story had that exact effect.

“I’ve thought about it a few times,” Swyers admitted of his aspirations of becoming an Olympic swimmer.

For Currie, a Grade 6 student at Lakeview Elementary, the swim camp with Malar was also a positive experience.

“It was pretty cool,” he said of the opportunity to meet Malar.

“Not many people get the chance to meet an Olympic swimmer.”

In addition to getting advice on how to improve his butterfly stoke, Currie said he appreciated her tips on nutrition, particularly the importance of the various food groups.

But the highlight for Currie, was having Malar sign a photo of the two together with the words, “Go for your dreams Mr. Freestyle.”

To some it may appear funny for an 11-year-old to have such a monicker, but according to Brink, Currie has earned the nickname.

“He’s got a great kick,” Brink said.

“He’s kicking a 400 m in seven minutes flat, that’s good enough to catch an Olympians eye.”

The weekend camp was also a positive experience for Brink.

“It was an awesome camp,” he said.

From his perspective as coach, Brink was impressed with the message Malar delivered to the young swimmers in attendance, a message of patience, with an emphasis on technique and fundamental skills learned at an age appropriate pace.

“Even Malar said she wished she had slowed down and learned the craft of swimming,” Brink said.

“Their message is a slow progression is the best progression.”

Another message Brink appreciated, something he has been telling the Waveriders, was the idea of practicing technique all the time, even during warm ups.

“It was nice to see that my ideas were in line with what Malar was saying,” he said.

The Waveriders are putting what they learned into practice this week as they travel to Prince George for a swim meet.