The dream of cracking the ranks of the national junior team has come true for Marauder swimmer Mohamed Eldah.
Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Communications
Eldah, a first year member of the McMaster men’s team, was recently selected to represent Canada as part of a traveling team that will compete in Sydney, Australia over the course of the holidays.
“It was very unexpected,” said the freshman of his inclusion in the national squad. “My goal last year was to get as close as possible to a spot on the junior national team because it was my last chance to do it as I am turning 19 next year.
“I came to school here and I was still getting acclimatized to everything when I got the email congratulating me.”
The invitation was extended on the strength of Eldah’s summer results as part of the Dartmouth Crusaders swim club of Halifax, NS. He achieved personal-best times in the 100m and 200m butterfly events during a national-level event in July.
The team’s trip will include a training camp beginning in Wollongdong, New South Wales, before the Canadians head to Sydney to participate in the state’s Age Group Championships from January 8-13.
McMaster head coach Andrew Cole indicated that Eldah’s upcoming journey is an important one, allowing him to engage in the same type of intensive, warm weather training that the Marauders have long valued.
“It allows for complete focus and attention,” said Cole. “He’ll train two or three times a day, swimming anywhere between 6,000 and 8,000 metres per workout. It’s the equivalent of doing a marathon twice a day, every day.
“It’s a little extreme but critical. The advantage to doing it is that he’ll be around a lot of other great swimmers.”
The difference for Eldah in Australia will come not only in the quality of the swimmers he faces but in the quantity as well. The state-wide event that he and his Canadian teammates will attend is several times the size of a typical OUA meet.
“There will be 3,000 swimmers in the event,” explained Cole. “Our swim meets would typically have between 400 and 800. They’ll be swimming there from 7am to 10pm for six days.
“The prelim heat sheet is the thickness of a phonebook. Ours would be something like a master’s thesis.”
Cole said that he expects an improved swimmer to return to his team after the grueling, high-level experience of the Australian trip.
“It’ll be a tremendous experience for him and a great competitive opportunity,” said the coach. “It will make him a little more hardy with regards to both training and competition.
“The margin of error is smaller at that level and it will be good for him.”
For his part, Eldah suggested that he is equal parts nervous and excited as he sizes up the opportunity to swim at the international level. The freshman said that he is eager to put the lessons and the attitudes learned as a Marauder to use with Team Canada.
“The practice atmosphere here at Mac is great,” said Eldah. “I’ve never been as pumped up in practice before. I’ll probably take that atmosphere with me.
“But what I’ll bring back with me is the professional experience, to try to help others around me move forward. There are a lot of guys here who have big goals in swimming.”
While Eldah trains in Sydney, his Marauder teammates will be undertaking similar workouts in Florida, where the squad has funded a holiday training camp.