Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centres have undergone significant change over the last 12 months, including both sites having new head coaches appointed last summer.
HPC–Ontario, which has seen multiple high-profile departures of late due to various reasons, had Ryan Mallette take over as head coach in July after the departure of Ben Titley, while Scott Talbot was given the reins at HPC–Vancouver this past August and started working at the center in November.
Since the shift in program leadership, the Vancouver center has more than doubled in size, with 11 swimmers currently working out of the UBC Aquatic Centre under Talbot after there were previously just five.
The squad includes returnees Danielle Hanus, Emma O’Croinin, Hau-Li Fan and Raben Dommann, all of whom have made at least one Canadian senior team, and the newcomers include 2022 Canadian World Championship team member James Dergousoff, reigning U SPORTS champions out of UBC Blake Tierney and Justice Migneault, and National Championship medalist Eloise Allen.
The center now has more swimmers than HPC–Ontario, which has eight listed on its current roster (see full rosters below).
“The environment has to facilitate moving the athletes forward to international teams and medals. There has to be some real clarity and intent around how we do things day to day,” Talbot told Swimming Canada in a recent feature.
“They’ve got to know they’ve got to work really hard to get the results that they want.
“Our aim is to work towards getting all our athletes to represent Canada at the highest level they possibly can, with the overriding objective to improve the overall level of Swimming Canada by our athletes’ performances,” said Talbot, who, when asked to describe his current challenge in one word, said, “exciting”.
Hanus, a double silver medalist at the 2019 Pan Am Games, is enjoying the environment with her new training mates.
“It’s been really good this season. We went from a group of four to five towards the end of last year, and now we’re a group of 11,” she said. “We have a lot of positive people and everyone wants to come in and work really hard and then keep moving forwards.”
Talbot is a native of New Zealand, having represented the country at numerous international competitions including the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. Born in Australia but having moved to Canada when he was two years old, his parents are notably Don Talbot and Jan Cameron, two household coaching names.
Dergousoff and Allen spoke highly of their early experience training out of a national center for the first time, lauding the access to coaches and resources.
“I’ve never had an opportunity in a center before and it’s going well,” Dergousoff told Swimming Canada. “It feels like we’re a true team and when people are down we bring each other up.”
“UBC has amazing facilities, we have good people, good coaches and great integrated support team staff. Everybody seems like they want to go forward in the same direction.”
Allen, who joined the squad from the Chinook Swim Club in Sechelt, B.C., added: “It’s one of the best programs in Canada so I was super excited when they asked me to be a part of it. I came from a really small club, so I’m getting used to the training because it’s a lot more than I’ve done in the past. They were all super welcoming and the coaches are really supportive of my goals.”
Prior to Talbot taking over, HPC–Vancouver was in a state of flux since long-time head coach Tom Johnson retired in 2020. Johnson led some of Canada’s top swimmers to Olympic success, including Martha McCabe, Emily Overholt, Brent Hayden and open water swimmer Richard Weinberger.
“Tom had great success and high-level athletes,” said Talbot. “They created such a fine history here. If I’m able to replicate that in some way with our athletes and our success that would be great. At the same time we want to be more successful than that and be able to move Canadian swimming forward even further.”
FULL HPC–VANCOUVER ROSTER (11)
- Eloise Allen
- Liam Clawson-Honeyman
- James Dergousoff
- Raben Dommann
- Hau-Li Fan
- Danielle Hanus
- James LeBuke
- Justice Migneault
- Emma O’Croinin
- Keir Ogilvie
- Blake Tierney
FULL HPC–ONTARIO ROSTER (8)
- Javier Acevedo
- Sophie Angus
- Maya Bezanson
- Elan Daley
- Ella Jansen
- Finlay Knox
- Penny Oleksiak
- Brayden Taivassalo
A lot of those swimmers at HPC Vancouver seem to have levelled off somewhat .It would be interesting if somebody in the know could give an honest opinion on reasons for this.Are the workouts, distances swam etc. the same for both centres.
First off Tom J did not “retire” from his HPC VAN post… At least not willingly. He would have been celebrated by now in a number of appropriate ways if so.
That aside it would be great if SNC as the national organization could outline clearly and transparently where every National team athlete is currently training, or taking time off, or other. So that the ‘casual’ fan in Canada would actually have an idea who is where and what they were looking towards.
Interesting, I think both rosters are missing quite a few names of those who are actually training in HPCs, especially in Toronto. Those kids even were in the Florida camp, why aren’t they on the rosters?
Having seen the HPC Ontario squad this Saturday after my daughters practice there was only 7-8 swimmers there, lining up the list above