ANCASTER -- Up until now, it's just been a really nice story.
ANCASTER -- Olympic swimmer Scott Dickens returned to his Ancaster Meadow School to visit with students and former teachers. He watched a video produced by the school. May 2012
John Rennison / Torstar News Services
You've got a one-time Olympian who misses returning to the Games by a blink four years ago. He considers quitting the sport until he visits a local school where the enthusiasm and energy of hundreds of kids encourage him to recommit himself to taking one last stab at his dream. Then, in storybook fashion, he pulls it all together and qualifies for London.
But being the subject of a nice story apparently isn't enough for Scott Dickens. Seems he wants a little more meat in the narrative. Maybe one more huge twist in the plot.
Such as? Well, last weekend in his last major meet before the Games, the 27-year-old Ancaster native not only won the 100-metre breaststroke but blew away the defending two-time Olympic champion in the process. Just destroyed Kosuke Kitajima. Touched the wall nearly a second ahead, which in the world of world-class swimming - where Michael Phelps can win a gold medal by .01 seconds - is a serious trouncing.
This a week after setting a new meet record at the Canada Cup in Vancouver.
Meaning it's time to stop thinking of Dickens as merely an inspiration and start thinking of him as a legitimate medal contender, too.
"I've never felt this confident," he says. "It's a totally different feeling than I've ever had in this sport."
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Skeptics may look at his winning time of 1:00.69 and compare it rather unfavourably to the time that won the Olympics four years ago. There's a missing second in there he's going to have to find. Which is true enough. But those doubters are reaching their conclusions absent one important detail.
The last eight weeks for Dickens have been about as much fun as running on a treadmill of razor blades in a pool of lemon juice. He's been in what he calls hard training since April. In his world, that means nine gruelling workouts a week in the water along with brutal weight lifting and dryland work. With no time off to recover.
It's nasty. Two weeks ago, he was lying on the deck of the pool stretching before one of his workouts feeling like he was at his breaking point. His coach told him to pull back a bit for the day and relax a bit. Instead, he poured it on.
Every time his body's screaming and he thinks he can't do one more lap, he wonders how he'd feel if a medal was there for the taking and he missed out because of the one day he didn't give his all. So he blocks out the pain and tells himself it's just a feeling.
"That 100 is not going to feel good," he says of London. "I have to be comfortable being uncomfortable."
Which brings us back to his winning time. Yeah, it was off the Olympic mark by a fair bit. No, it wouldn't have put him on the podium there. But, when he dove into the pool in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, he was already spent. He didn't feel anywhere close to 100 per cent. Yet he still won, comfortably.
Which bodes so well. Because when he steps into the blocks at the Olympics, he'll be fresh.
"To go the time I went was amazing," Dickens says. "I usually drop a lot when I rest. I've never done a time like that in hard training. It's almost as fast as I went in the trials."
This changes the narrative completely.
No longer is he a guy to root for simply because he's got a great story. Instead, 52 days from now when he splashes into the London pool, he's a guy to cheer for because he's suddenly a real contender for an Olympic medal.
That would be your Hollywood ending.