Charlottetown, P.E.I. -
Early to bed, early to rise as you keep your eye on the prize. That might be the mantra of Newfoundland and Labrador's swim team as it competes at these Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown.
Because while most other athletes are operating on a midnight curfew in their dorms at the University of Prince Edward Island, swimmers from this province are tucking themselves in at 10 p.m., with lights-out a half-hour later.
The early curfew is not some sort penance. Head swim coach Brad Hutton simply sees it as the only way of guaranteeing his swimmers the best chance of getting the rest they need each night of the competition.
"Our warmups are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m," said Hutton before a practice session at the CARI aquatic complex Sunday.
"They need eight hours of sleep and this (the curfew) gives them the opportunity to do that,
"There's always a little bit of grumbling, but they all adhered to it (Sunday night) and they seemed pretty rested this morning.
Theoren Goosney of Corner Brook admits feeling a bit jealous over the extended night enjoyed by other athletes.
"Last night, we were in bed and we could hear everyone else out on the field right outside our windows, so you think about it," said the 17-year-old Corner Brook high student, "but we know it (the curfew) will pay off."
That was echoed by Nadine Rockwood of St. John's.
"We just have to remember it's going to be good for our swimming," said the 17-year-old who is entering Grade 12 at Gonzaga high and who, like Goosney, will be among the busier Newfoundland swimmers in Charlottetown.
Rockwood will average an individual swim a day as she competes in the 400-, 800 and 1,500-metre freestyle, as well as the 50-, 100- and 200-metre butterfly. Goosney is entered in the 50-, 100-, and 200-metre breaststroke, 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
"It's not too cramped a scheduled though, but we've got relays in there, too," said Goosney.
And relay results will be one of the focuses for the team this week.
"In relays, we want to be top eight in every race," said Hutton. "Up to now, it's mostly been ninth an 10th."
There will be 10 relay races - five male and five female - and Hutton says they are a good gauge of how a province's swimming program stacks up against others.
"It definitely shows the depth you have in a province," he said. "Every so often, a province will have that one-off swimmer that does very well and earns them a whole lot of respect, but success in relays show you have three, four or five swimmers who can perform at a high level."
As for individual events, Hutton says the aim is to get to as many second swims as possible, in other words to have a top-16 time coming out of the preliminaries and a placing in either the final (top eight) or consolation (nine to 16).
It could be an advantage in that the pool at the CARI complex is just 25 metres.
"For us, with only one 50-metre pool in Newfoundland (Aquarena), we're better 25-metre swimmers, so this should be a good year for us because of the short course," said Hutton.
Rockwood, says "every pool definitely has its own personality," and the one here at UPEI is known as being fast. One reason are the walls, which provide a good push for swimmers.
"They are not all the same," said Goosney. "Some walls are slippery when you hit them with your feet, others have a good grip, like this one."
So conditions are ideal for a quite a few provincial short-course records to fall this week, although Goosney and Rockwood insists it's mostly about moving up the provincial rankings.
"And if we do our best, that's what will happen," promised Rockwood.