Stroke, stroke, stroke. No you fool, I'm having a stroke!

Photo: Amy Bourne

Swimmers always in each others’ wake

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By Kate Kyle

Last summer, while Ryerson swimmers Nic Jorgenson and David Quane worked construction jobs in Montreal they were asked to attend an Association of Lakes and Pools meet — a highly competitive reunion event which featured many ex-club swimmers, ages 20 and up.

Quane, a four-year veteran, and Jorgenson, a soon-to-be rookie, showed up to the meet having gained a fair bit of weight.

“I asked (Jorgenson) how much he weighed at the beginning of the season and he said ‘me plus Christina Aguilera’,” Quane said. “I weighed a good 10 to 15 pounds heavier too.

“At the meet there were six guys, four of which were cut and just ripped. They looked like swimmers! Then there was me and Nic on the outside lanes with the paunch over the Speedo, and we’re trying to stretch and the fat is jiggling all over the place. But Nic and I placed first and second.”

The paunch jiggle hadn’t slowed these speedsters down one bit. Quane beat Jorgenson by one-hundredth of a second.

“A lot of people like to argue that Nic beat me but I still think I beat [him],” Quane said. “Well not actually. I think he beat me. We just found it funny that the two fat guys won. Everyone else was surprised too because Nic and I weren’t really seen during the summer and Nic didn’t swim for a year.”

This weekend at the Ontario championships in Sudbury, Quane will swim the 50-metre breast stroke, the 100-metre breast stroke, the 100-metre individual medley, and the 50-metre butterfly.

He has been voted Ryerson’s most valuable swimmer three years in a row, and is currently ranked third nationally in the 50-metre breast stroke. Over the last four years, Quane is the only swimmer at Ryerson who has qualified for any event at the national level. Ryerson swim coaches are hoping rookie Jorgenson will fill his shoes next season.

In 1990, Quane, now a fourth-year aerospace engineering student, and Jorgenson, a first-year photography student, began training together at a Montreal swim club. Since then, they have climbed the ranks of competitive swimming.

A strong competitive relationship developed between the swimmers — each challenges the other to push his talent to greater heights.

Quane was born and raised in Hudson Que., 40 minutes west of Montreal.

At the age of eight he began swimming competitively at the Pointe Claire swimming club in a suburb of Montreal. The club’s trainers focused specifically on racing and techniques. He met Jorgenson a year later.

Jorgenson, a native of Pointe Claire Que., said he got into competitive swimming at the age of nine after swimming against neighbourhood kids in a public pool.

“The public pools are one way the clubs recruit swimmers at a young age. That’s how they get the competitive spirit started.”

In practices they swam in the same group, but at meets they were usually separated into different heats because their speed varied.

“When we started, Nic was a lot faster than me and I think he still is,” Quane said.

Quane’s coaches didn’t always recognize his ability. He admits he was a brat who was ignored because he was hyperactive and cocky. But his boisterous personality helped him meet one of his swimming idols — the late Olympic gold medal winner, Victor Davis.

Quane was his obnoxious self, pissed off Davis and got a pounding charley-horse in the thigh from the Olympian.

Quane left Pointe Claire when he was 13 and joined the Dollard-des-Ormeaux swim club, while Jorgenson continued at Pointe Claire where his training intensity increased as he ascended the age ranks. They rarely saw each other except meets and social events.

Quane says the swimmers at Dollard-des-Ormeaux were like a bunch of “tough guys [who] do more training than anyone else.”

He swam two hours, six days a week. Right now, Quane and Jorgenson train with the Ryerson club one hour, three days a week.

Throughout high school Quane and Jorgenson both swam for their clubs and their school teams. Both swam in national youth competitions.

When Jorgenson was 19, he tried out for the Olympic team in Montreal.

“That was an interesting experience though I didn’t place as well as I wanted to,” Jorgenson said with a shrug. He placed 18th, finishing one minute over the national standard time — the qualifying time required to compete in Nationals and the Olympics.

Jorgenson stopped swimming for a year, focusing instead on school and photography. He was swimming at a national level when he went on the hiatus. Shortly after, Jorgenson applied, and got into Ryerson photography.

The Association of Lakes and Pools meet reignited their competitive relationship. Quane insists his improvements this season are because Jorgenson is always on his heels.

Quane suggested that Jorgenson join the varsity team when he came to Ryerson. At the tryouts, Rams coach Victor Belac saw Jorgenson’s potential and the benefits he could bring the team. Both Quane and Jorgenson are accomplished breast strokers. Belac hopes the same spark will be lit in Jorgenson that has been lit in Quane that will carry him through his four years at Ryerson.

Being a rookie, Jorgenson “has potential to take over David’s standing in the future,” Belac said. “Hopefully he will carry the torch.”

Quane and Jorgenson wake up at a 5:30 a.m. and hit the water at six. At each practice they run 5-10 kilometres, climb stairs, lift weights and do an endless number of sprint-laps in the pool.

Every two laps they get a five to 10 second break before taking off again. This type of training is preparation for the weekend competition in Sudbury.

“Nic and Dave are in the top six in the province but it could be anyone’s race,” Belac said. “Out of all the competitors the one who wants it more. It could be anyone that night.”

The OUA championship races in Sudbury will be held February 1-3 with preliminary rounds in the mornings and the finals later the same day.

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