Only two months into the season, the Ladysmith Orcas Swim Club is riding a wave of both talent and potential.
Club coach Dusan Toth-Szabo said he is encouraged by the continuous improvement he sees amongst club members, who range in age from five to 15.
“Overall there’s an improvement,” he said. “It’s not only that our top swimmers are winning, but there’s a quite nice improvement with the new swimmers as well.”
In a recent tournament in Nanaimo, held October 22-23, Ladysmith was represented by 14 Orcas swim members. Faith Knelson, 10, took home first place in four different events, improving her personal time in two of those events. Darby Rae, 14, also brought home first place in the Female 13-14 50 Free event, improving her personal time by 43 seconds.
The biggest improvement went to nine-year-old Louise Wong, who shaved off 23.55 seconds off her personal record in the 100 IM.
Hubert Wong, 11, clinched a fourth place finish in the Male 12 and under 200 breast stroke, a category he had never competed in before.
“We had quite a few little ones that never swam before in a particular event,” Toth-Szabo said.
This week, some of the senior members of the Orcas will travel to a competition in Victoria, while the younger swimmers will participate in a meet later this month.
“There are certain swim meets that everyone can go, there are higher swim level meets that you have to be qualified to go, or sometimes there are certain age groups,” Toth-Szabo explained.
The Orcas swim club has doubled in size over the last three years but there is still room for about 10 more swimmers, Toth-Szabo said. Currently, there are 40 swimmers on the team.
Aisha Alsop, volunteer coach, said the club is a good avenue for kids who may not be as strong at other sports, or want a supplement to sports they already play.
“Sometimes kids aren’t good at soccer or other sports and they want to come try it,” she said.
“Swimming works every single muscle rather than just some, so it’s really good for working those types of muscles that you need for all sports.”
Orca swim club members can swim up to six days a week, depending on their level. The season starts in September and will run until July.
“It’s always funny to watch them the first two weeks because they’re exhausted, but once their endurance kicks in, their muscles remember and they go back to where they were before,” Alsop said of returning members.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits, swim club can provide essential quiet time for youths and young children, Alsop said.
“It’s quiet under the water and they get time to think,” she said. “They’re working their bodies and they get to work out some of their frustrations.”
“As an ex-swimmer, I wouldn’t have made it through high school years if it hadn’t been for swimming because it gives you a place to go five days a week,” she added.