The Woolwich Wave got their first taste of competitive swimming for the season last weekend in Fergus, coming away with many top finishes.
Formerly called the Elmira Aquaducks, the swim team changed its name last year to align with other teams in their league and to attract more older swimmers to the team.
Club executive Erin Schmidt says their first meet went well and the swimmers had to compete in either the Fergus meet or the Kincardine meet on July 9 to be eligible for the semi-finals in Elmira on July 23. If their times are good enough there they’ll advance to the finals in Wilmot on Aug. 6.
“A lot of strong finishes, a lot of kids improving too. We’re a recreational competitive league, so we really stress individual improvement from meet to meet. And also we time the kids a couple of times during the year and the coaches are really good to keep track of those and work with the kids on improving their times,” Schmidt said.
At the finals, all the swimmers who place in the top eight receive ribbons. They also accumulate points which are used to calculate who wins the team championship. The top three will receive medals.
“It works really nicely that way to keep all of the swimmers really engaged,” Schmidt said.
And they’re pleased with their enrolment this year, up to 34 from 26 swimmers in 2015. They’re actually coming close to capacity because they swim twice a week at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and there’s only so much room in the pool. Some swimmers swim both nights and others just one night.
Swimmers compete in three events and can switch events up until the semi-finals. The qualifying times in the semi-finals determines if they go on to the finals.
She says at the first meet the coaches spent a lot of time recording any issues with stroke technique or turns and then they’ll work individually with the swimmers in between meets as they head towards the semis and the finals. The head coach also creates a schedule with what he wants to focus on each week.
“I think this week they’re going to focus on breaststroke. Maybe he decided that was a stroke a lot of the kids needed to work on their technique – it’s one of the hard ones,” Schmidt said.
She notes Fergus always has quite a bit bigger team. In the final numbers when it comes down to adding up the points it helps if your club has more swimmers.
“They also do a really good job of drawing more older kids and that’s something that we’ve been talking about lately, how to draw some more kids in the 13, 14 and older category,” Schmidt said.
They’re also looking into how they can bring more boys into the sport next year because the team is around 75 per cent girls. She recommends boys look into it for next season because swimming is a great full-body workout to keep in shape for other sports.
As for which swimmers did particularly well for the first outing of the season, many finished in first place at least once.
“We’re looking at a couple of kids to see if they’ll break records. I don’t think anybody broke records this meet, but they tend to get better as they go from meet to meet with practice on specific things in the middle. So a couple of kids are close. That’s a pretty big thing because some of the records date back to the ‘90s,” Schmidt said.
She notes Grace Parker took first in all three of her events.
“Her times are really good. She’s a fabulous swimmer and she used to swim with our club, but wasn’t for a few years … I know they’re looking at her times pretty closely. She’s doing really well,” Schmidt said.
Other first place finishers from the Woolwich Wave were Ben Snyder (3), Ian Speiran (3), Isobel Speiran (2), Vanessa Gadsby (2), Connor Scheerer (2), Katie Carreon, Jonah Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, and Audrey Parker.
“There’s a bunch of kids in contention in Elmira for taking medals based on the results at this meet, so it’s pretty exciting,” Schmidt said.