Okotoks doctor delivers masterful performance
Swimming: Doug Anderson wins 2 gold, 2 silver at Canadian championships
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Leave it to a family doctor to solve the riddle of swimming’s most exhausting race in his first attempt.
Okotoks’ Dr. Doug Anderson was a golden debutant in the 1,500m freestyle swim en route to a four-medal performance at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ont.
“It was my first time swimming the 1,500m and I talked to a buddy of mine quite a bit before and he said to take her easy on the first 200 and find your pace,” said Anderson, a member of the Okotoks Masters Swim Club. “I didn’t go very hard the first couple hundred and then I counted strokes the whole time and it just kept me on track.
“It worked out really well for me. I got the gold medal in my first swim.”
Racing in the 55-59 age group, the 57-year-old touched the wall in a time of 20:08.25 to climb to the top of the podium.
It wouldn’t be his only trip to the top in the City of Roses. Anderson was first to the finish line in a time of 5:00.43 in the 400m freestyle as he continued his evolution from former sprint specialist to long distance ace.
“I used to think of myself as a 100m freestyle sprinter, but as I get older the distance events en up turning out better,” he said. “In the 400 I went out quite a bit harder and kept the same pace.
“It was quite a good competition for myself and my best showing at the national championships so I was very happy with that.”
He would add silver medal finishes in the 200m and 800m freestyle race to complete the meet with four trips to the podium from his eight events. Not a bad on-base percentage.
“It’s helpful for someone from Okotoks because we train at altitude here and Windsor is about six-hundred feet (above sea level) so it makes a big difference in terms of the competition,” he said. “You felt like you had a lot more air.”
The national meet was held at a short-course distance, 25m lengths, a fact the six-foot-six Okotokian used to his advantage at every turn.
“It is kind of an unfair advantage for a lot of things,” he said. “It’s especially good for things like starts and turns which is good for a 25m pool where there’s lots of starts and turns.”
However, you make your own luck in the pool and, as the good doctor can attest, repetition is the mother of all learning.
“I’ve been training a lot more distance freestyle this year and even took a week off in April and went down to a time-share in Mexico and swam about 5,000m for six of the seven days,” he said. “I did a lot of 800s which I usually don’t do, just training on my own, pushing myself.”
Though the World Masters Swimming Championships are held in Montreal this summer, Anderson, who swam at the 2012 worlds in Italy, is opting to sit this one out to spend time with family.
Given his rookie performance in the 1,500, one can expect a few twists in the script in the coming years.
“In three years I’ll be turning 60 and swimming in the 60-64 (age group),” he said. “As swimmers we always look forward to getting older and going up an age group.
“For sure I’ll be going to the worlds when I’m 60.”