A pair of Canadian Olympic swimmers, Dominique Bouchard and Chantal van Landeghem, have announced their retirements from competitive swimming. Bouchard is 26 and van Landeghem is 23.
Both swimmers represented Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in individual events, while Van Landeghem swam 2 relays as well.
Van Landeghem, who swam collegiately at Georgia, won a bronze medal and set a Canadian Record as a member of the Canadian 400 free relay as a finals swimmer. She also swam on the country’s 400 medley relay, which placed 5th in the final. Individually, she swam the 50 free free and 100 free, missing the final and placing 10th in both races.
“Obviously the Olympics were a huge highlight but in general just racing is probably the aspect of swimming I’ll miss most, I just loved that feeling of adrenalin behind the blocks. The opportunity to get to represent my country on the highest stage for me was probably one of the greatest honours of all,” Van Landeghem said. “More important, probably, is I’ll miss all the relationships and friendships I’ve made.”
Bouchard, meanwhile, who also trained in the United States in college, at Missouri, finished 12th in the 100 back and tied for 9th in the 200 back. She last swam a best time in either backstroke in long course at the 2015 World Championships.
As a whole, 2015 would be my career highlight,” Bouchard said. “I did really well on the Arena Pro circuit, getting first and second in the 100 and 200 at all of the meets. After that being able to be on the podium in front of the home crowd at Pan Am Games, and able to final at the world championships, it was a jam-packed year.”
She raced early in 2017, but was 4th at the Canadian World Championship Trials in the 200 back, and tied for 2nd in the 100 back – which in both cases meant that she missed the team. During 2017, she experienced back pain and was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis on her right leg.
“My leg with the blood clot was almost 3 cm bigger than the other one,” she said. “Would my blood clot have happened on the plane ride there? It sounds cliché but I do think everything happens for a reason. As much as I would have loved to compete and see Budapest it worked out for the best, and Canada represented again really well.”
“I was kind of waiting for that feeling to come back but it never did. I think it was the right time, and Canada’s not lacking any backstrokers,” she added with a laugh, noting Olympic medallists Caldwell and Kylie Masse, who set a world record to win the 100 at worlds this summer, with young swimmers such as Taylor Ruck and Jade Hannah coming on strong.
“I think I did my job in bringing backstroke back to the forefront of Canadian swimming. I made my first senior national final in the summer of 2008 and kind of just stayed there until 2017 basically,” she said. “I gave everything I had to the sport. Maybe I didn’t have the glamorous career I would have liked but I think it all worked out for the best. I think I was able to help some people along the way and maybe inspire some kids from Northern Ontario.”
She won 3 medals at the 2015 Pan American Games, including a gold as part of Canada’s 400 free relay and silver individually in the 200 back.
Van Landeghem raced at Worlds in 2017, swimming on 4th-place 400 women’s free and medley relays for Canada, plus on both bronze medal winning mixed relays.
“I wanted to leave on a really high note which I think I’m doing and looking back only with fond memories,” Van Landeghem said.
In addition to her Worlds and Olympic medals, van Landeghem won 2 bronze medals at the 2014 Pan Pac Championships and 3 medals at the 2015 Pan American Games – including individual gold in the 100 free.
Van Landeghem is working on a Master’s degree in clinical psychology at the University of Manitoba.
“I’ve already managed to do some small things on the side with regard to sport psychology. I volunteered at Canada Games this summer in Winnipeg and was able to talk to Team Manitoba athletes,” she said. “It was a great opportunity for me to give back in that way, and over the semester I’ve also been teaching at my old school Vincent Massey Collegiate in sport psychology.”
Bouchard is back home in Sudbury, Ontario and is applying to medical schools.