Canada’s top track & field athletes are attempting to get their seasons off to a hot start as they gather in San Diego with the unique opportunity to train with athletes from across the country and staff from the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific (CSI Pacific).
That is the goal behind a three-week warm weather camp being held by Athletics Canada’s West Hub in San Diego, California from January 21 to February 9.
Each winter, the West Hub invites their national team athletes and NextGen athletes to a camp to optimize their training in the best possible conditions with an Integrated Support Team full of experts in their field, many of whom are employed at CSI Pacific. For the third year in a row, that warm weather camp is taking place at the U.S. Olympic Training Centre in Chula Vista, part of the San Diego metropolitan area.
“Track is often treated as an individual sport, but in these training camp environments, you really see the impact of having a team to train with, having training partners, and being able to integrate with people with different strengths and weaknesses,” explained West Hub Manager Julianne Zussman. “It creates a really strong training environment that is unique to these camps and is hard to replicate in each athlete’s daily training environment.”
The U.S. Olympic Training Center is a 155-acre complex with facilities capable of supporting archery, BMX, canoe/kayak, cycling, field hockey, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, triathlon and more. The center also offers housing, dining, training facilities, local transportation, recreational facilities, athlete services and professional development programs.
“It sets the athletes up for a really strong start to their outdoor season,” Zussman continued. “The weather is the number one reason we go down there, but it is nice to have accommodations, meals, recovery facilities and everything else integrated on-site.”
The daily routine in San Diego will not differ much from the schedule athletes would have training at the West Hub’s home base in Victoria. The three-week camp includes regular training blocks with track workouts and weight sessions, as well as plenty of running. Athletes will also take part in education seminars and additional testing with hopes of establishing personal bests that would not be possible during a Canadian winter.
It is the second-straight year that the West Hub will integrate its warm weather camp with veteran athletes training alongside NextGen athletes. What makes the 2017 camp unique will be the opportunity for newly minted Olympians and Paralympians to share their experiences with a younger group of athletes. 2016 Olympians Anthony Romaniw, Andrea Seccafien and Gabriela Stafford are among those who have made the trip to San Diego.
“We see this as a great opportunity for some of our NextGen athletes to integrate with athletes that have just come back from Rio,” said Zussman.
“To get that transfer of knowledge, mentoring, and have younger athletes train with those who have been at the peak. It will be very valuable for those Olympic and Paralympic athletes to bring those experiences and share them with those NextGen athletes.”
Athletics Canada will also be giving two emerging coaches the opportunity to participate in their warm weather camp through their High Performance Coach Mentorship Program. The program is designed to fully immersed coaches in the daily training environment with top Canadian athletes, hub staff and the Integrated Support Team during training camps and testing opportunities.
Five staff members from CSI Pacific will help operate the camp, making the transition seamless for the athletes outside their regular daily training environments. CSI Pacific’s Innovation and Research Lead Dr. Trent Stellingwerff will serve as the Integrated Support Team Lead and Exercise Physiologist. Zussman, Sandeep Nandhra (Strength & Conditioning), Ryan Brodie (Sport Biomechanist), and Rebecca Hall (Performance Dietitian) will also represent CSI Pacific at the camp.
All five are regulars within the West Hub’s support team, and as Zussman explains, having the entire team in San Diego creates an optimal environment where the athletes can get the services they need from sport experts who know them best.
“They provide support to our athletes in the daily training environment [back in Victoria], but this is just a more concentrated environment. Here they can really see the athletes day in and day out because they are completely dedicated to our sport when they are on site.”