Williams Lake Blue Fins swimmers got a taste of competitive action Saturday with their first swim meet in seven months.
Billed the ‘Splash ‘n’ Dash Time Trial,’ head coach Chad Webb said the meet was a chance for the club’s competitive swimmers to celebrate their hard work since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March with a inter-club meet.
“It’s good to be back,” said Webb, noting his swimmers have not travelled at all for competition since last spring. “Seven months, no swimming. I missed that.”
He said while the energy in the building was certainly lower with the reduced numbers and no spectators on deck, the kids swam their hearts out and finished with some impressive personal bests and six new club records.
“For some of our kids, this would have been their first year as competitive swimmers, and while a small time trial at home doesn’t compare to a big meet, you wouldn’t have known it with the confidence and swagger they approached each race with,” said coach Amanda Nemeth.
“They not only exceeded expectations in the water, but a highlight as a coach was seeing their excitement, pride and the way they cheered and encouraged each other.”
For the Blue Fins’ older swimmers, many had their eyes fixed on the record board.
Jadyn Johnston and Cale Murdock set the tone in the first race of the day, battling hard in the 100-metre backstroke, with Johnston, ultimately, taking the title of record breaker.
Johnston followed that up with another backstroke record: this time in the 200 metre, Webb said.
Not to be outdone, Murdock set new records in the 100-metre individual medley and the 200-metre freestyle, breaking a 25-year-old record in the process.
Adding to her dominant presence on the record board, Taylor Fitzgerald earned a record in the 100-metre individual medley.
Stepping up in the final event of the day, October’s senior swimmer of the month, Braedi Hamar, was the lone entrant in the 1,500-metre freestyle.
“Braedi swam the 20-minute event racing towards a club record with a few teammates swimming in other lanes to give her someone to race and keep her on target,” Webb said.
“She shattered the old record by almost a minute and ended the meet with a notable highlight.”
For three of the club’s younger swimmers — Hazel Pare, Annica Stalker and Maya Robinson — the meet was tons of fun.
“It feels really good to be back in the pool with everyone in a competition,” Pare said.
“It’s also a bit weird because we haven’t done it in so long,” Stalker added.
Robinson noted being able to swim in a competitive setting was a great way to challenge themselves for best times.
Webb, meanwhile, said it’s been a long seven months since the novel coronavirus, initially, forced the closure of the West Fraser Aquatic Centre.
“It’s a bit hard to stay motivated when you don’t know what you’re motivated about,” he said.
“But the kids have been working hard, training hard, and results are paying off.”
– With files from the Blue Fins