Fifteen-year-old Shauna McNally of Alberta was a standout in the backstrokes, coming from behind to win both the 100 and 200. In the 200 back, she was in third place at the 100, but toughed it out and came back to win by less than a 10th in 2:20.06. "I try to negative split it," she said of her 200 strategy. "I try to go out smooth and bring it home really hard." McNally swam the backstroke leg of Alberta's gold medal winning 4x100 medley relay.
Ontario's Matthew Leaker won the 200 back in 2:06.72. Behind at the 100, Leaker put it together in the second half to beat Brockman. "I was out slower than this morning," he said. "So I said 'I have 100 metres to catch the guy.' I took a look next to me underwater and just went for it. It was an all out last 100."
He had it. The 200 backstroke was his. I looked up from my notebook only to copy his winning time off the board. But wait: Jason Brockman's fingertips were reaching, stretching for the wall, and in that brief moment, he was out-touched by Ontario's Matthew Leaker for the gold.
"It was somewhat of a disappointment but it was a major learning experience," said Brockman after the race. "I think I learned more from losing that race than had I won it."
Turning bad situations into "learning experiences" has become a habit for Brockman. Minutes after his 200 backstroke final, he stepped up and swam "a really good split" in the 4x100 free relay.
"I just found out that, don't worry about it, don't dwell on things that are negative," he said of his thoughts after the 200 back.
The 18-year-old Calgary swimmer had a similar experience at summer nationals where he expected to get carding in the backstrokes.
"I buckled mentally. I tried way too hard, (thinking) 'I gotta do this, I gotta get carded,'" he said. "It just threw me off track and ruined the whole thing but I learned from it."
So Brockman arrived in Brandon with more modest goals. Instead of focussing on the outcome—winning and getting carded—he took the meet one swim, and one day, at a time.
"Basically I came in here not expecting a whole lot, just having fun and trying to get some more experience," That's something Brockman sees as beneficial in the long run.
"With all the other teams surrounding you, it's really hard to get focussed," he said. "But this is what the Olympics are going to be like so it's a really good learning experience."