The genuine manner of Canadian Olympian Yuri Kisil saw him make an instant connection with members of the Cochrane Piranhas Swim Club last Friday in a mentorship session.

The world-class Canadian swimmer is part of Head to Head, which connects Olympians with young athletes to help promote mental resilience and physical wellness.

It began with a presentation by Kisil followed by a session in the aquatic centre, where he offered the swimmers pointers.

Kisil spoke about his swimming career, provided tips on mental and physical preparation, and provided candid answers to a range of questions.

Kisil says the question and answer period is his favourite part of his presentation. 

"Sometimes they surprise me, but I've always been an open book, so when it comes to questions, the weirder, the crazier the better. Nothing has stumped me yet."

Before becoming known to some as "The Missle," he says personally benefitted from being able to connect with Olympians at a young age. He began swimming at age eight, and his Calgary club included some Olympians, who were generous with sharing their insight.

YuriYuri Kisil autographed many cards for the swimmers and let them handle his numerous medals.

"Seeing someone in your situation when you're growing up shows you that you can do it, too," he says.

"Being an inspiration in the kids' eyes and stuff like that and answering questions and seeing them really enjoy themselves is really cool," he says. "Also seeing them swim is really awesome. If you tell them to do something and they really do it well I just know some of the things I'm telling them is going to make them really good. Seeing them get that is really cool."

The 6'5" athlete made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where he was a semifinalist in the 100m freestyle. He also swam the second leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay that finished seventh. He won two bronze medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships with the mixed 4x100m freestyle and mixed 4x100m medley relays. He posted another top-10 finish in the 100m freestyle and ended the year being Swimming Canada’s Co-Male Swimmer of the Year. 

In his second Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020, Kisil swam the third leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay that finished fourth, missing the podium by just six-tenths of a second. He also finished seventh with the 4x100m medley relay and was a semifinalist in the 100m freestyle.


Kisil has taken a bit of a break but now has his sights set on the 2024 Olympics.

"I'm starting to get back in the pool and trying to gear up for the 2024 Olympics to see if we can get up on that podium."

The Piranhas once again have a full roster with a waiting list. They started training on May 1 and will be competing in their first swim meet of the season in Didsbury on June 3.

The Piranhas won the club banner in last season's Alberta Summer Swimming Association provincials. Their members won 27 medals and set two new provincial records in addition to countless club records and personal times.

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amy swedloPiranhas head coach Amy Swedlo working with swimmers at a practice earlier his month.