Winning is ‘the Army way,’ says soldier swimmer

Article / September 12, 2019 / Project number: ncr-ar-0464-19-0216-reservist long distance swimmer

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Gatineau, Quebec — Captain Robert Landriault is a fiercely competitive swimmer. Last year alone, he placed first overall in no fewer than five international, civilian races – not to mention his many national and provincial wins and 14 Canadian Armed Forces athletics records.

You would think there must be quite a story there: did he grow up around water, or meet a mentor who cultivated his natural gifts?  However, when asked what attracted him to the sport, Capt Landriault said: “I don't know.”

“When I was 12 years old I was playing with my friend,” he added. “He invited me to go swimming and I thought I would see what it's like. I started swimming with the Gatineau Aquatic Team in 1977. I haven't stopped.”

Capt Landriault joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1990 – and, no, not because of an affinity for the water: “I went to the recruiting centre and applied,” he recalled. “They had a Navy admin clerk position and I said, ‘Okay.’”

He would subsequently compete in the International Military Sports Council’s first World Games, which took place in Rome, Italy in 1995. Two years later, Capt Landriault returned to Rome, where he coached the Canadian Armed Forces swim team at the World Military Swimming Championships.

A period of serving at sea followed, which slowed him down until 2001 when he took a commission into the Canadian Army. He currently serves as a Supply Officer with 76 Communication Regiment, which is based in Ottawa and just a short distance away from his old stomping grounds in Gatineau, Quebec.

“I received my commission on the HMCS Protecteur and was transferred to Ottawa to complete my bachelor’s degree in economics. I was posted to 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier in 2003 and there I started swimming again. When I arrived here in Ottawa around 2014, I went back to the Gatineau Aquatic Team,” he explained. “And since then I've been training with kids between the ages of 14 and 19 swimming about eight times a week. I do about 5K to practice – about 40K a week.”

Though his passion for swimming developed well before his military career, Capt Landriault said being a soldier has fired his competitive spirit.

“I'm not there just to finish. I'm there to win. It's the military way. There's a lot of strategy. I know my strengths and I know if I can just follow for three-quarters of the race then I'm good to go. For the last 25 per cent I just open it up.”

Capt Landriault competes at distances ranging from 1.5 to 19 kilometres. In terms of international competition, he recently finished just three seconds behind the winner in his division in the final Global Swim Series (GSS) event for 2018-19 in Florida.

GSS competitors acquire points throughout the year-long season, which begins May 1. Capt Landriault currently sits in sixth place overall with races ahead this fall and winter in Mexico, Bermuda and the U.S. – specifically Hawaii and South Carolina – offering ample opportunity to increase his standing. Not surprisingly, his goals are ambitious.

 “I want to win. I want a world championship.”

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