Former Didsbury swimmer Jillian Tyler ready for Olympics

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012 06:00 am | By Johnnie Bachusky
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Jillian Tyler, left, with her sister Brittany at last year's world championships in Shanghai. submitted photo
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When Jillian Tyler, a former student at Didsbury’s Ross Ford and Westglen schools, competed for Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing it was a lifelong dream come true.

And this month the 23-year-old pride of Didsbury does it all over again in London, England.

Tyler, who swam and trained at the University of Minnesota for the past four years, arrived in London last week with the Canadian national team. Her parents Ron and Donna, along with younger sister Brittany, later joined her.

“We have got our flags and our umbrellas,” said Ron, adding the last time he talked to Jillian she was “focused and cheerful” about heading into her second Olympic Games.

“You always get nervous at a meet of this calibre,” said Ron, a teacher at Ross Ford for the past 30 years. His wife Donna is a teacher at Hugh Sutherland School in Carstairs. The couple and Brittany all live in Calgary, having moved to the city in 2001 to accommodate Jillian’s training at the Cascade Swim Club. Jillian is a former elite member of the Didsbury Aqua Jets Swim Club.

She is heading to her second Olympics following an outstanding career at the University of Minnesota, where she broke several records. She also graduated with a bachelor of journalism degree. She is competing for Canada in the 100-metre breaststroke competition. At the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, Tyler made the top-8 in that event with a time of 1:07.64.

At the 2008 Games in Beijing, Tyler competed in the same event, earning 13th place in her Olympic debut.

“She is hoping to go to the finals this time and do better,” said Ron. “At that level there is no room for error. If she finishes three tenths off her best time she might not make the semifinals but if she swims three tenths better she could make the finals.”

Ron said one important part of competition she learned at Beijing was not to get distracted by the magnitude of the event.

“With 10,000 athletes there is a lot of room for distraction,” he said. “After Beijing she learned not to get distracted.”

Swim Canada officials are expecting their swimmers to come home with three medals from the London Olympics. Unfortunately, Jillian finished 14th Sunday in the 100-metre breaststroke and will not advance to the finals. But she could still earn a spot in the 4 X 100 medley relay.

In the meantime, the London games could be Jillian’s last major competition. She is ready to pursue her journalism career, and she is choosing to begin the next phase of her young life living and working in Minnesota.

“She has found a niche in Minnesota. After the games she is coming to visit Calgary for two or three weeks to be with us and then it is back to Minnesota,” said Ron, adding his daughter for the moment is totally grateful for the opportunities Didsbury and the province have given her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian.

“She is well aware of that. These athletes realize they didn’t get to where they are on their own,” said Ron. “They know they have an obligation to put on a good show. She is proud to represent her country, her province and the Town of Didsbury.”


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