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Swimming |  Lucia Slavkovska, following in the footsteps of her older brother Juraj

Swimming | Lucia Slavkovska, following in the footsteps of her older brother Juraj

Omar Hani did not know this Montreal Canadiens player we talked about. The coach of CAMO Swim Club's junior girls program only knew his 14-year-old sister would be joining his group for the week.

“I'm not a hockey fan, so I don't know if his brother is really famous,” he explained. trainerIt met on Saturday morning at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex. “Is he a good hockey player?” Does he live in Quebec? »

Omar Haney could be forgiven for not knowing who Juraj Slavkovski, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, is now a member of CH's most productive trio. This was also before he scored a hat-trick against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Originally from Egypt, where he lived before settling in Montreal in his early twenties, the civil engineer has learned French through training, but has yet to become acquainted with Quebec's national sport.

On the other hand, the 30 swimmers, aged between 14 and 19, were fully aware of who would accompany them between the ropes of the pool last week. “They wanted to know who his brother was and they all knew him!”

Without a summer McIntosh, who is fourth at the Tokyo Olympics at the same age, Lucia Slavkovska performs very well in chlorinated water. In any case, it is enough not to miss training during his famous brother's visit to Montreal with his parents.

This case was organized months ago. Gabriela Slavkovska, Lucia and Juraj's mother, contacted Jana Salat, a good acquaintance of hers, a member of the Canadian water polo team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and, like her, a native of Košice, Slovakia. This put her in touch with Greg Arkhurst, her ex-husband, CAMO's artistic director.

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So Lucia arrived at Claude Robillard last week. Omar Hani himself had discovered Quebec in the same way about ten years earlier. When visiting his sister who was swimming in Montreal, he was welcomed to CAMO by Greg Arkhurst, who was in his position at the time.


usually, trainer He likes to start training on time, but since the pool wasn't ready yet that day, he agreed to the swimmers' request to introduce the new kid to the group. “I introduced her in English: 'This is Lucia, the sister of a Canadian hockey player, I don't know her name,' and then I explained how we worked. I told them: 'Be nice to her, she doesn't understand French.'”

Everyone introduced themselves in English before diving in. Although she was among the youngest, Lucia Slavkovski performed very well, according to the coach.

We did two training sessions a day, about 6,000 meters each time. She was really relaxed, and had no trouble following up, as is often the case when someone visits us. She was better than some of the girls already in the group.

Omar Hani, coach of the junior girls’ program at Camus Swimming Club

His elder brother, Juraj, was the first witness to his diligence. “She would wake up at 4:45 a.m. and my dad would drive her home [à Claude-Robillard] », No. 20 said, Tuesday morning at the Bell Center, a few hours before the game against the Flyers. “It's crazy, I don't know how you do it!” It's like that every day. In Slovakia, you swim at 6am, so you wake up at 5:30am and try to keep the same schedule here. »

Photo by François Roy, Press Archive

Juraj Slavkovsky

Slovakia's bronze medal in ice hockey at the Beijing Olympics, where Juraj was named best player, has inspired Lucia, who plans to follow in his footsteps.

“She takes it very seriously, and I think she wants to do the same,” said Slavkowski, who believes she can do it.

“She has to work hard. She has only been swimming for two and a half years and is already on the national junior team, so it's a good start. There will be obstacles, but she has to keep pushing herself. My mother is a former swimmer, so we help her, give her everything.” “We can. She is the youngest, we can help her with our experience. Not really me, because I am 20 years old, but my parents have experience.”

Sports mom

Like her older brother, who left to study in Finland as a teenager, Lucia considered emigrating after her nine-year primary education in Slovakia.


Their mother, Gabriela Slavkovska, completed 12 yearsH From the event at the European Championships in 1995, we can read on the page of the Elite Sports Center in Košice, where she works as a swimming coach and Pilates instructor. She also practices triathlon.

In swimming she was second in Slovakia. But it was not an easy time. And it was expensive. She had the opportunity to go to school, so she jumped at the chance. But we will do everything to give my sister the opportunity to live her dream.

Juraj Slavkovsky

Gabriella takes care of her daughter's training in the gym, but not in the pool. “I don't like my mom coaching me in hockey!” Juraj laughed. So I understand that. »

With a difference of six years and an ocean of distance, how is the relationship between brother and sister going? “We're close, but she's going through puberty now, so she doesn't want to talk to me about everything! No. 20 shouted. When she grows up, we'll talk about everything.”


Lucia participated in six sessions with CAMO before returning to Slovakia. It particularly shines in the mid-distance, creep and medley. Omar Hani believes she can reach the final of the provincial championship.

” [En Europe]The coach pointed out that you start improving at 16 or 17 years old. Here, it starts around 13 or 14 years old. But the culture is not the same. There, they swim longer, while here, many stop at CEGEP. »

the trainer He did not hesitate to offer technical advice to the Slovakian recruiter. Remind him to finish every throw at the wall, which is a (bad) European habit he quickly picked up on.

“My priority is for everyone to have fun. Whether it is a visitor, the best or the slowest, I make everyone feel like they are my favorite.”

After her final practice on Friday morning, Lucia took a picture of herself with the coaches, her mother and her father Yuvraj Sr., who appears to be holding his son's frame. Before leaving, I ordered a CAMO Natation t-shirt and swim helmet and signed up for the club's Instagram page. So Slavkovski's team missed Juraj's first hat-trick. Who knows if his little sister didn't inspire him in turn?

With Guillaume Lefrançois, Journalism