Happy homecoming for record-holder

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Turning 30 is a big event, although Annamay Pierse still has a way to go.

But her former club, the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, is already hitting the milestone with this weekend's 30th anniversary invitational swim meet.

Pierse - the current world-record holder in the 200 m breaststroke - is the keynote speaker in today's opening ceremonies, which will run from 4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kinsmen Sports Centre.

HAPPY TO BE HOME

"It is really good to be home and to see all these little swimmers and my family and stuff," said Pierse, 25, who was in Toronto last Monday to accept the BLG Award as the top female athlete in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

"This year has definitely been the best. It keeps getting better and better and the season's not even close to being over yet. I'm pumped for the rest of it," said Pierse.

She broke the world short-course record in the 200 m breaststroke in Toronto on March 14. Her time of 2:17.50 edged out the former record by .25 seconds.

But yesterday, she was back in familiar water in her hometown of Edmonton where she held a developmental training session with 35 of the club's young members. For many, it was the first time to get in the pool with a two-time Canadian Olympic swimmer.

Pierse, a finalist in both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke in the Beijing Olympics, was more than willing to share her technique with the up-and-comers.

"This is the club I grew up with. This is where it all began," said Pierse. "I really felt I should be a part of the 30th anniversary. This will always be my home pool."

Pierse said it wasn't hard seeing a little of herself in the young swimmers.

"You can just tell they're so excited to be in the water. You tell them something and they just take everything in and are having fun, so that's the main thing," said Pierse, who had her picture taken with each of the members following the session.

"(The session was) really cool," said Keyano swimmer Alec Bilan, 11, who has been swimming with the club nearly half his life. "It's fun and it gives me something to do. I've had this goal for so many years to get to the Olympics."

Bilan met Pierse earlier this year when Keyano hosted the Western Canadian championships. He got her autograph, along with one of his other favourites, Olympic bronze-medallist Ryan Cochrane.

"I would ask her how hard her sets are normally and how hard it gets at her level," said Bilan, whose favourite event is the 50 m backstroke. "She's like, world class."

JUST THE BEGINNING

Capturing the world record hardly marks an end to the journey for Pierse, who will return to the National Swimming Centre in Vancouver to train full time while she finishes up her studies in psychology at the University of British Columbia.

"You're just wanting to get better. A world record is just somebody's best time, so there's going to be a lot of people out there trying to beat me just as I was trying to beat them when they were faster than me," she said.

"I have a lot of hard work. Probably even more now since I am ranked closer to the top."

Pierse will represent Canada in Rome, Italy, in July during the World Aquatic Championships.


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