Mon, September 23, 2013

Savard confident, relaxed heading into the pool

By ALAIN BERGERON, QMI Agency

LONDON - It is not arrogance, certainly not indifference, but Katerine Savard radiates confidence a few hours before her first taste of the Olympics.

The madness of the London Games seems to have no effect on the swimmer from Cap-Rouge, Que., whose work will begin as early as tomorrow morning.

The 100-metre butterfly specialist reviewed her race strategy one last time with coach Marc-Andre Pelletier on Thursday. The pair talked a lot between training sessions, suggesting that those final hours were good for her preparation, both physical and mental.

“I feel relaxed and rested, and I’ve slept quite well since we got here, even if our floor of the Olympic village is very hot,” the 19-year-old said.

“No muscular stiffness, no tension. I think it’s a good thing. It makes me doubt less.” Since Tuesday, Savard has taken time to get familiar with a pool that might become a boiling kettle next week, considering the atmosphere and level of competition in the swimming competition. Minus its 17,500 spectators, the Aquatics Centre did not intimidate her.

“When I got close to the swimming pool, I thought it was less impressive than when I took part in the world championships,” Savard said. “Actually, the performance level will not be higher. The difference is that it’s a global 'show’ for television. People don’t swim faster just because it’s the Olympic Games.” Savard’s qualifying time is the 11th fastest out of the 42 competitors in the Olympics. The fifth round, in which she will swim, includes three with better times.

The trick is that finishing first (or last) has no importance. The 16 best times will get into the evening semifinal. The eight best will then make the cut to the final, 24 hours later.

“Getting carried away is not in her nature,” Pelletier said. “On the contrary, I think the atmosphere may help her. She managed 58 seconds even on days she was tired. She is ready, we’ll see.”

Savard knows what it will take to get into the final, so she’s going in with eyes wide open.

“According to our calculations, you have to reach 57.5 (seconds) or less if you want to be in the final,” she said. “And I don’t intend to pace myself in the morning in order to swim faster in the semifinal.”