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04/06/2012

20 years after I finish swimming I finally get to Olympic Swimming trials.

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer - @RussellPhotos

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Blind athlete Amber Thomas in the evening Finals of the Paralympic 100 breaststroke at the Canadian Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials  at the 1976 Olympic Pool in Montreal.   March 31, 2012. 

I never made it to Swim Nationals as a swimmer, but twenty years later I made it to one as a photographer.

In between I've covered a Commonwealth Games and pair of Olympics, but covering the 2012 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic trials was a great experience.

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Swimmers take off from the starting blocks during warm-ups before morning heats.

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Sprinter Brent Hayden covered the 50 metres in 22.16 seconds to qualify for the London Olympics.

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Joe Bartoch of the London Aquatic Club qualifies in the 100 Butterfly.

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Beijing bronze medalist Ryan Cochrane swims the 1500 metre freesyle.

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Sinead Russell splashes before entering the water for the women's 200 backstroke during morning heats.

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Sinead Russell was the fastest qualifier in the women's 200 backstroke during morning heats.

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The pool did not sit empty between morning heats and evening finals, age group simmers splashed in their own meet.

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Matthew Swanston of Newmarket qualified third in the 200 backtstroke during morning heats. He would finish fourth in the final.

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Pascale De Rep-Prud'Homme swims the 200 breaststroke during morning heats.

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Maxime-Vale Olivier is held close to the wall for the start of the Paralympic 50 m freestyle during  morning heats at the Canadian Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials. Maxime competes in the S2 category. Swimmers with physical disabilities are allocated a category between 1 (more severe) to 10.

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Paralympic athletes leave the pool after swimming the 50 metre freestyle.

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Vision impaired swimmer Amber Thomas gets a tap on the head to let her know the wall is near as she swims the 100 breaststroke.

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Julia Wilkinson wears gold boots on deck before her 100 freestyle heat.

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Erica Morningstar's fans cheer, she lead most of the 200 Individual Medlay until the final metres, she would finish second.

Happy winners

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Guelph's Andrew Ford qualifies for the 200 Individual Medlay in London during the final session at the Canadian Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials.

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Summer Mortimer, right,  is congratulated by Vale Grand'Maison after setting a paralympic reacord in the 50 freestyle.

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Audrey Lacroix wins the 200 m Butterfly.

Where's the jubo?

One of the strange things about covering a National Championship is that some athletes are expected to win and we don't see much jubulation, jubo to photographers.

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Oakville's Sinead Russell sets a new Canadian Record in the 200 backstroke qualifying her for London.

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Brent Hayden wins the 100 metre freestyle but reacts to his time of 48.53. Hayden has been the world champion in the event.

Happy Losers?

It trick in covering trials is knowing where to look. You have to be hyper aware of the Olympic qualifying standards and try to anticipate who else might have earned a ticket to London. 

Some of the biggest moments at a Olympic Trails come from the athletes that finished second or third and punched that ticket.

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Heather MacLean from Etobicoke Swim Club finished third, but secured a spot on the London Team in the 100 freestyle.

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Heather MacLean is congratulated by her sister Brittany who secured a spot on the Olympic team earlier in the week.

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Savannah King of Toronto, left, and Etobicoke Swim Club's Brittany MacLean congratulate Etobicoke's Alexa Komarnycky after all three qualified for the 800 freestyle in London.

Sad to see...

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The current world record holder in the 200 breaststroke, Annamay Pierse is emotional as she talks to media about the disappointment in not making the London Team. In 2010 Pierse caught dengue fever at the Commonwealth Games in Dehli.

Finally, Swim coaches yelling at athletes.

The shorter the race, the less likely the athlete will see their respective coach. Brent Hayden will take a breath for the entire 50 metre freestyle. But in the 1500 metre race, the athlete will see their coaches and teammates a lot more and see their signals to pick up the pace.

Here they are!

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Great photos, Steve!

Awesome pictures! My daughter is Amber and anytime we are this up close we are on the end of the tapper so great job!

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