Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Strokes of genius

Bison swimmer setting records, winning races, winning awards

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Dillon Perron has packed a lot into one week of swimming.

The 20-year-old University of Manitoba Bisons swimmer has set four records, earned his first career win at the national senior level, was named the captain of the Bisons men's team and the Smitty's Bisons male athlete of the week.

Perron placed first in the 50m (28.05 seconds) and 100m breaststroke (1:01.32) events last weekend at the 2012 Canada Cup, a senior national event featuring top swimmers from across the country, held at the Etobicoke Olympium at Toronto. Both times were Bisons and provincial records.

"I'm really happy that I could pull that off. I was hoping to make finals so to win was really special," said Perron, a native of Lac du Bonnet who is in his second Bisons season.

Perron plans to turn that confidence into more fast times on Thursday through Sunday at the Pan Am Pool where the Bisons men's and women's teams will be competing at the Prairie Winter Invitational swimming meet.

"I've been in the Top 12, Top 15 in the last two years and when you're like that, your name is down there, there's tons of people, no one really knows who you are," Perron said. "To get a win at the senior national level, people start recognizing you and you start to build more confidence. You can shoot for that national team in four years. That's my goal, that's why I'm here, that's what I'm going for."

Perron will compete in the 50m breaststroke on Thursday at 3 p.m. Over the weekend, he'll compete in the 50m and 100m butterfly and the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

Two weeks ago, he qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport swimming championships set for Feb. 21-23, 2013 at Calgary.

It's been a pretty good run early in the season for a guy who last season could not compete at the university level due to academic ineligibility.

"I'm really proud of Dillon's accomplishments here and not just in the pool. He got his eligibility back and now he's a real leader with how he manages his life and training and certainly in competition," said Bisons coach Vlastimil Cerny, noting Perron continued to train and compete with the U of M club team last year.

Cerny said he has implemented a new "CrossFit" core strength training and conditioning program that features high-intensity, shorter-duration sessions. He has also reduced the team's pool training to once a day to help the athletes balance their schedules.

The women's swimming team captain is fifth-year Julie Therrien, an Asper School of Business student who has also already qualified for the CIS championship. At Calgary earlier this month, Therrien swam the 50m freestyle in 26.87 seconds, under the standard of 26.93.

"Qualifying (for CIS) this early is a relief and it was encouraging to see and now I want to see what else I can get out of myself," said Therrien.

This weekend at the Prairie Winter event, she is aiming for a time of 26.3 seconds which will open an international door.

"I've shifted my goal to qualify for the senior nationals which would qualify me to go to the World Trials," she said. "I'm taking into consideration I went that 26.8 when I wasn't rested, we had hard weights the week before, so now I pretty much have ideal conditions this week to race at home."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 28, 2012 C4

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