The Williams Lake Blue Fins Swim Club is diving into its fall and winter season head first after COVID-19 rocked the sport with a tsunami, of sorts, in mid March.
WLBFSC head coach Chad Webb said the club’s junior 2 and senior swimmers are set to begin workouts this week, with the rest of the club’s junior and super novice groups starting the week of Sept. 14.
“We’re super excited to get back in the water,” Webb said.
Forced to call somewhat of an early end to the season on March 15, Webb said the club did what it could to keep swimmers engaged and physically active through Zoom workouts and a workout challenge each day until mid April.
“That was pretty cool, and the kids actually embraced it and did a great job,” Webb said. “It kept them motivated.”
The club is normally shut down throughout the months of July and August, however, some of the club’s provincial and national competitive swimmers normally continue to train through July.
Webb said when the Sam Ketcham Memorial Pool reopened in June, those provincial and national swimmers jumped at the chance to get back in the water.
“We had about a dozen or so — six older and six of the younger ones — and we did some training in the water and some structured dry land,” he said.
When the club returns this week, swimmers will be limited to cohort groups with distancing measures in effect between groups, Webb said, with no more than 20 athletes in each group.
“We’ll be a little more split up than normal,” Webb said. “We’re limited in space and what we can do with the procedures in place but, relatively, we’re going ahead with most of our programming.”
Competition, or swim meets, won’t be taking place, however, Webb noted.
“We’ll be training, and maybe get to do some in-house competition to keep everyone motivated,” he said. “We’re not in a big rush or hurry, and we’ll try to focus on general athleticism. We’ll be able to take our time reinforcing skills, which is kind of nice because we’re not rushed to get everybody prepared for major competitions.”
Webb, who is a teacher at Lake City Secondary School, has also undertaken a new course launching this fall for students.
“It’ll be a physical health and education class, but with an aquatics direction,” he said, noting the class will take place at the pool similar to the hockey program offered through the school.
The aquatics course will be for students in grades 8-9, with 55 students taking part split into two blocks.
“It’s going to be a bit more of a challenge with COVID-19 precautions, but there is potential to do some introduction to lifesaving skills through that course, and staff at the facility are excited to get some more kids down that path,” he said. “Even teaching swimming lessons, or coaching.”
Webb said aside from different stroke instruction and lifesaving techniques, the course will also feature some boating safety.
Webb pitched the idea several years ago to SD27 administration, and said he’s thrilled to be able to get the program off the ground, despite everything happening surrounding the pandemic.
“It’s exciting to be able to promote any sport, and here in Williams Lake, being at the lake, or boating, or swimming is such an active part of our lives, I think it’s great,” he said.
All things considered, Webb can’t wait to get back at it.
“I miss being on deck and interacting with the kids,” Webb said. “And I think our kids and families appreciate we can run a pretty darn close to normal program — something we’re fortunate to be able to do because lots of clubs and sports can’t right now.”