Mac recruits top swimmer
By Larry Moko
The Hamilton Spectator
HAMILTON, Ont. - McMaster University has landed a big-fish recruit for its swim team.
He's Frank Despond, the 17-year-old Millgrove resident and Hamilton Aquatic Club star who last January competed for Canada at the Junior Pan Pacific Games in Guam.
A Grade 12 student at St. Mary's Secondary School, Despond says he committed to Mac because of its quality engineering and athletic programs.
"I was really excited to be on the Junior Pan Pacific team," Despond said. "It was my first big international meet. To go up against Australia, the United States, Japan ... and to be able to place in the top 16 was even more exciting."
His 200-metre freestyle clocking at the Pan Pacifics broke a 29-year Hamilton Aquatic Club record by a half-second.
Despond has been involved in swimming for 14 seasons at clubs in Burlington and Hamilton.
But he realizes the next three years are particularly important to his development.
"My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympic trials in April of 2012, make the Olympic team and then represent Canada in London," he said.
The son of a Waterdown dentist, Despond recently cracked the one-minute, 50-second mark for the first time in the 200m freestyle. He did that at the Spring Nationals meet in Toronto.
"I thought it was a pretty good achievement, especially since I wasn't wearing the super Lazer suit that everybody is talking about," he said.
Sean Baker, the HAC head coach, said: "Frank broke 1:50, which is a pretty significant mark.
The Mac record is 1:49.87 (Jeremy Sparrow, 1996), so he's basically walking on to the deck at McMaster already as the fastest in Mac history."
Despond, incidentally, also holds the OFSAA record for the 200m freestyle. His time at this year's championships eclipsed the meet record by almost three full seconds. In addition, he's won numerous gold medals at CANUSA Games against Flint, Mich.
"He's got the basics to be a great swimmer," said Mac coach Andrew Cole. "He's disciplined, very coachable and has a great attitude. He gets himself into a routine and isn't afraid to work."
At 6-foot-4, with long arms, Despond has been hitting the weight room to add strength and co-ordination.
"He holds the water really well," Cole said. "He's massive. He's kind of like a big puppy dog that you can tell is going to turn out to be a massive G