The Kootenay Swim Club is off to an impressive start to their season, and coach Chris Wright is training his kids hard in preparation for a December meet in Kamloops from December 12 to 14. Meanwhile, the club is attempting to promote regional ties with other Kootenay communities in hopes of growing the culture and infrastructure of the aquatic sport.
“The next meet they’re training for is pretty much the culmination of their first training cycle, so basically this meet in December is where we’ll expect to see their best times,” said Wright.
After the meet is completed, the team will be participating in a Christmas training camp in preparation for upcoming provincials. Currently, Wright has two swimmers—14-year-old Sam Matthew and 13-year-old Kelsey Anderusak—who have qualified or nearly qualified for age group nationals.
“Age group nationals are essentially a tracking program, so at their age they would be on par to get their national qualifying standard. It’s a younger version of it,” he said.
“At that age it’s a really great goal for them to be working towards.”
Recently, Matthew was named second place overall at a Penticton swim meet. It was also the first time they had a 10 & under girls relay, which finished fifth.
Wright said Matthew and Anderusak are both diligent, hard-working freestyle and breaststroke athletes, and exemplify the best the club has to offer. Unfortunately, sometimes his swimmers reach a level that necessitates them moving to another club, as has happened with 15-year-old Jordan Anderusak, who now trains with Island Swimming.
His ultimate goal is to develop a program that could work for a highly competitive swimmer like Anderusak, and to give the Kootenay swimmers a better chance against their west coast peers. Already Wright is thrilled that the team, which was founded five years ago, is growing so rapidly.
“We have increased quite significantly, mainly with our younger kids through the Bugaboo program,” he said, noting that all his groups are named after Kootenay mountain ranges, including the Monashees, Selkirks, Purcells and Rockies.
Wright takes pride in the technique he sees displayed by his younger charges, rather than their placings.
“Our Bugaboo swimmers, it’s not the placings that matter, it’s the quality you see. They look like racers when they’re racing, not like little pollywogs in the pool.”
Wright said the imminent closure of the Nelson and District Community Complex is a pain, but after experiencing the roof’s cave-in last year, he’s happy the work is being done. The team will continue to train in Castlegar.
“We’re pretty practiced and versed at this. We’ve already got carpools set up,” he said.
This Friday the Kootenay Swim Club is hosting an everyone-welcome mock swim competition at the Castlegar pool from 6-7 called Friday Night at the Races. He said it will give kids invaluable experience racing, while the parents can practice their marshalling and timing skills.
For more information about the Kootenay Swim Club or to read results or the race calendar, visit thekootenayswimclub.com.