For three swimmers in Santa Clarita, the most important thing in life is not passing classes or getting a date; the most important thing is training for the olympics.
Saugus Swimmer Abbey Weitzeil and Canadian swimmers Santo Condorelli and Coleman Allen are all training under Canyons Aquatic coach Swim Coach Coley Stickels, who is preparing them for the Olympic trials this spring and summer.
Abbey Weitzeil is a 19 year-old Santa Clarita resident. Her swimming career started when she was 12, and she quickly made her way to the national level.
“The opportunities that I have been blessed with are crazy,” said Weitzeil. “It’s so exciting to be where I am.”
These opportunities come at a price. Weitzeil is under constant pressure to perform in practice in order to improve her time at freestyle.
“It’s a lot of pace, a lot of technique,” she said. “It’s pretty rough.”
Stickels, believes she has made significant progress since her training with him at COC began.
“We’ve focused more on power and speed (with Weitzeil),” Stickels said. “She’s become more athletic (in general).”
A Canadian born in Japan, but raised in Portland, Oregon, Candorelli has now relocated to Santa Clarita to continue his preparation for the summer games in Brazil.
He is also reunited with his childhood Stickels who has been instrumental in changing Candorelli’s training and diet.
“Paying attention to what you put into your body is the biggest thing,” Candorelli said. “We pay attention to how many [calories] we are actually putting in. It’s useful carbs. It’s not empty. You have a beer you have 200 calories and it’s just nothing, it doesn’t do anything for you.”
Stickles has been an influence in Santo’s training from the beginning of his career.
“I’ve known Santo the longest,” he said. “I’ve known him since he was about six.”
However, an even bigger inspiration for Condorelli is his father, who encouraged him to start swimming at age five.
“My inspiration that lead me to the sport and drove me to where I am today would be my dad,” he said. “He’s kinda had my back. He saw some talent in me and he’s always been that person to make me shoot for the stars and do the best I can.”
Another Canadian athlete training at COC, Coleman Allen, began his Olympic journey at age five, when he started swimming competitively.
However, he was only introduced to Stickels a short time ago.
“Coleman’s relatively new,” Stickels said, “but we clicked right off the bat.”
Coleman believes that his rigorous diet has helped him stay competitive at a national level.
“Lot of protein, protein and vegetables and low on sugar…low on carbs,” he described. “We try to do no gluten, gluten free diet.”
Allen compared his food consumption to a machine, saying that his body had to be firing on all cylinders to swim.
“Think about fuel,” he said. “You’re not going to put crummy gas in a nice car.”