Manitoban Divers Train for Peak Physical – and Mental – Performance
Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba – The life of an elite athlete comes with some unique challenges. It’s often a balancing act that requires extreme physical and mental ability. Just ask Mara George and Brooke Bouchard.
The young athletes train with Revolution Diving, Manitoba’s high performance springboard and platform diving club, led by Canadian National Team coach (and CSCM employee) Dallas Ludwick. George is also currently a member of Canada’s Junior National Team.
The divers train each evening during the week, along with a few early morning sessions before class. Both women are teens in their final year of high school, and admit that juggling studies and training often means sacrifice. “When I’m not at the pool, I’m doing school work,” says Bouchard. “Being here takes up most of my time, so those moments where I have a break are good,” noting that she tends to use any downtime to keep up relationships. Similarly, George says maintaining friendships is not always easy. “I often have to give up time with friends. It’s worth it. But you’ve got to make sure diving is what you want to do – that it’s ‘your sport.’” Like many of their teammates, Bouchard and George tried a number of other sports including gymnastics before falling in love with diving.
With the commitment required for athletes at this level, time management is a real struggle; even the most understanding academic programs are not always happy about so much time spent away at competition or training.
The team recently returned from a weeklong training camp in Cuba. Despite it being full of long days training in the sun, Bouchard and George say the camp was a much-needed change of pace. “When you go away, you’re free to just dive,” says George. “Without the pressures of school or anything, you can focus and have fun.”
Bouchard notes the camp had a positive impact on her as well. “We travel a lot for competition, but camp is different. You get fresh ideas. It’s not the nerves or stress that come with competition.” For her, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is the mental aspect: “it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own head. It’s important to get that in control, because you can do anything if you set your mind to it.”
As part of their work with the Sport Centre, the divers have access to Sport Psychologist Adrienne Leslie-Toogood. She points out the need for athletes of this caliber to consider their mental performance:
“For years we assumed athletes were immune to mental health issues. But athletes are people too. They arrive in high performance sport with the same range of mental health issues as the general population. Couple this with the high performance sport culture – where we are trying to push limits – and we quickly realize the importance of mental health.
“We are beginning to accept that excellence is about resilience. And resilience comes from being honest about who you are. It is important to accept how you are wired, pay attention to it and work to stay well even in a high performing sport context.
“High performance sport is an environment of intense emotion. There are incredible highs and devastating lows. It is important to work with athletes and coaches to developed mechanisms to process that emotion in order to stay emotionally well in a high performance sport setting.”
The Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba (CSCM) was created as one of the many legacies of the 1999 Pan American Games held in Winnipeg. Today, CSCM is the hub for high performance sport in Manitoba. A proud member of the Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, CSCM works to provide a world-class, multi-sport daily training environment for athletes and coaches through integrated services and programs in the fields of physiology, strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology and support services.
For more information, contact:
General Manager, Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba
Direct Line: 204.474.7148 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org