Vikes swimmer has Olympic intentions: Vikes at the Universiade games in China

Gold would complete Nick Sinclair’s recovery

Despite significant injuries UVic’s Nick Sinclair has climbed the ranks and is competing for Canada at the world’s university games in China this week.

Despite significant injuries UVic’s Nick Sinclair has climbed the ranks and is competing for Canada at the world’s university games in China this week.

Nick Sinclair is on his way.

The 2010 Canada West swimmer and rookie of the year is hoping to bounce back from a rough sophomore season with a better result in 2012 and a trip to the summer Olympics in London.

Although an arm injury last summer forced him to slow down this year, Sinclair is stepping it up as one of five swimmers representing the University of Victoria this month at the Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China from Aug. 12 to 23.

The graduate of Oak Bay High is one of nine Vikes competing for Canada at the Universiade.

In Sinclair’s first year with the Vikes, he won four golds and two silvers at the 2010 Canada West championships. He broke UVic’s record for the 100-metre backstroke with a time of 55.24 seconds, and became the first swimmer in Canada West history to be named both the athlete and rookie of the meet.

He also nabbed a gold at the 2010 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships.

Then last May, just before the Pan Pacific Swim Championships, he developed thoracic outlet sydrome, which caused pain, tightness and swelling in his left arm and chest. The injury is common in athletes who play sports with repetitive overhead movement, said coach Peter Vizsolyi.

Sinclair was able to compete at the Pan Pacifics while using blood thinners. He had surgery in September and was able to start training again in November. Soon after, he developed mononucleosis which lasted until mid-winter. He still managed a bronze in the 200 m backstroke at this year’s CIS games in February, but doesn’t feel like he was on top of his fitness this year.

Vizsolyi said Sinclair hasn’t been able to train properly for six months.

“He’s had more than one setback this year,” Vizsolyi said.

But Sinclair is hoping the Universiade, where he’ll be swimming the 4×200 freestyle relay, will be the prelude to a better 2011-2012 season  and a shot at the Olympic team.

“This year was disappointing. Next year is the big year.”

Vizsolyi said while he has high hopes for Sinclair, the swimmer is going to have to work hard to recoup a lost year.

“We’re going to try and compress two years into one,” Vizsolyi said.

One of the Canadian team’s national training centres is located at Saanich Commonwealth Place, where Sinclair practises alongside Vikes open-water swimming champ Richard Weinberger and Olympian Ryan Cochrane.

Sinclair hopes to snag a qualifying time at Olympic trials at the end of March, where he plans to tackle the 200m backstroke and the 4×200 freestyle relay.

In the 200 back, he has to beat out the two men who have already made the Federacion Internacionale de Natation (FINA) ‘A-time’ of 1.58.48 required to make Canada’s team, said Vizsolyi. But Sinclair has a good shot at the 4×200 freestyle relay, where four or five athletes are usually accepted.

Sinclair’s even considering compromising his full scholarship in the demanding engineering program to take the second semester off of school to prepare for next year’s trials.

Vizsolyi thinks his willingness to focus fully on training shows his commitment.

“He wouldn’t take the semester off if he didn’t believe in it. He doesn’t want to be out the whole year – he’ll give it his best shot.”

Vikes at the Universiade games in China

Swimmer and University of Victoria alum MacKenzie Downing carried Canada’s flag and led a team of 10 current and former Vikes at the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Summer Universiade games in Shenzhen, China on Friday.

The opening ceremonies brought together 12,000 athletes and coaches from the Universiade’s 152 countries.

The games started  Aug. 12  and run to Aug. to 23.

UVic’s contingent consists of swimmers Hilary Caldwell, Craig Dawgnall, MacKenzie Downing, Aimeson King and Nick Sinclair, golfers Anne Balser, Alyssa Herkel, Darren Hupfer and Megan Woodland, women’s soccer player Shayla Behrens and Vikes manager of athletics James Keogh, serving as Canada’s administration manager.

Behrens is a Saanich soccer player who came up with the Gordon Head association and played for the pro level Victoria Highlanders W-League team this year before joining Team Canada at the FISU games. On Monday Canada became the first women’s soccer team to qualify for the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over Taiwan, ending pool play with two wins and a loss, beating Great Britain but losing to China.

Also competing abroard is Vikes swimmer Richard Weinberger (Surrey), who won gold in the men’s 10-kilometre open water race at a test event for the London 2012 Olympics on Aug. 13. With the win Weingberger is looking like a medal hopeful England. Fellow Vike Aimeson King (Toronto) finished 12th.