Winnipegger well tuned for Olympic trials

Jim Bender, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:32 AM ET

She has established herself as a phenom in the water.

Now Winnipeg’s Chantal VanLandeghem is Manitoba’s greatest hope to land in an Olympic pool this summer.

And she’s 17.

“She’s one of the best young swimmers in the country and we’re trying to get her ready for the Olympic trials,” Tom Hainey, her coach, said Saturday.

VanLandeghem is tuning up for those trials in Montreal from March 27-April 1 by competing in eight events at the 2012 Speedo Western Canadian Championships at the Pan-Am Pool this weekend.

“This is just like a preparation for the Olympic trials just to see how close I can get to my best times and work on all of my technical aspects during a race,” VanLandeghem said.

She is hoping to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England in the 50- and 100-metre freestyle, and 100m backstroke events, “and I don’t know what else.”

“It’s gone really good so far. I won the 50 free (Friday) night and I re-broke my Canadian record (now 24.56), so I was really happy about that. I think that bodes really well for the trials.”

VanLandeghem also won the 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m backstroke.

“The 200 back was a little rough, but my 100 is pretty set for the Olympic trials, so I’m pretty happy with it,” she said.

She will compete in three more events Sunday.

“She’s really young for an Olympic swimmer but they are getting younger now,” Hainey said. “She has a combination of physical stature — she’s a big girl — has a tremendous feel for the water and has a strong work ethic.”

The 6-foot-3 Grade 12 student has accepted a swimming scholarship at the University of Georgia, which, interesting enough, is in Athens, Ga. But VanLandeghem still can’t believe she is already this close to becoming an Olympian.

“Yeah, it’s always been my dream but I never thought I’d be saying, hopefully, these are realistic possibilities,” she said. “So it’s really exciting and I just can’t wait to go and try out.”

Her enthusiasm for the sport is infectious.

“She’s really a great teammate and a tremendous leader, even with the national team,” Hainey said. “And she’s pulling a lot of the young kids along with her.”

Winnipeg’s Breanne Siwicki, for one, set a provincial record in the 15-17 200m freestyle with a time of 2:13.99. She also won the 1,500m freestyle and the 400 IM in the 16-and-under category.

Winnipeg’s Artur Kroiter set a provincial record of 22.99 in the 50m freestyle and Winnipeg’s Dillon Perron won the 50m butterfly, both in men’s 17 and over.

Winnipeg’s Mackenzie Glover took the 100m backstroke in the 15-and-under class; and Wyatt Yarish posted a personal best when he won the 16-and-under 800m freestyle.

VanLandeghem was particularly pleased her 15-year-old sister Tia got her first Canadian national time in the 50m backstroke, which means she can compete at the senior nationals.

About 12 Manitobans will compete at the trials but VanLandeghem is the only one with a legitimate chance to qualify for the Olympics, Hainey said.


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