On your marks, get ready, swim.
After taking an almost three-year hiatus, due to the closure of the old pool, the Barrhead Swim Club is back in full stroke and getting ready for a swim meet in Edson in mid-November.
Head coach Gerald Jenkins said the club has been practicing for close to a month in hopes of being able to compete in an official swim meet.
“One of the problems is that a lot of the swim meets are by invitation only and since we haven’t been active for a while a lot of the clubs might have forgotten we exist,” he said, shortly before starting a practice of the competitive swim club on Oct. 23.
The club is divided into two categories, competitive and non-competitive.
In the competitive stream, swimmers practice four days a week for six hours while the non-competitive group hits the water two days for two hours. There are about 20 swimmers in the competitive stream from Grade 4 to Grade 11, while the non-competitive group has about 45.
“We have a good group from those just starting out to more experienced swimmers and they are really starting to take shape.” he said.
It turns out Jenkins did not have to be too worried because when assistant coach Charlene Assenheimer arrived at practice she announced that they have been invited to the swim meet in Edson.
“Barrhead has a really good reputation in the swimming community so I wasn’t really too worried that we would be able to find swim meets to be invited to,” she said, adding Edson is the perfect competition to start with. “It is a great little meet and everyone is so friendly and helpful.”
Assenheimer also noted the timing is perfect. In previous years, the Edson meet was held in early October, but for some reason this year it has been delayed until Nov. 18 and 19.
“If it was any earlier I don’t think we would have been able to get the kids ready,” she said.
As for how things are going for the club in general, vice-president Sandy McCarthy said, better than expected.
“We were not sure what to expect after having such a long layoff, but we are happy with how things are going, especially in terms of interest. I think we have as many swimmers, perhaps even a bit more than we had when the pool closed,” she said.
In addition, Jenkins said he has received unexpected coaching help from a former swim club member, Rylyn Laing.
“She has been a great asset and I really appreciate her effort and taking time from her busy university schedule to come coach,” Jenkins said.
Laing, who is currently in her second year at the University of Alberta, began her swimming career with the Barrhead Swim Club when she was in Grade 6 and remained an active member right up until the pool closed.
After the pool closed, Laing got her coaching credentials and started lifeguarding, first at Camp Nakamun and then at Spruce Grove’s Tri Leisure Centre.
“My little sister swims with the club and when I found out that they might not have enough coaches I said I would help,” she said.