The Woolwich Wave swim team kicked off the competitive season with a strong showing last Saturday.
Taking on their long-time friendly rivals, the Fergus Flippers and Kincardine Kippers, the Waves were in Fergus for the first of a series of swim meets over the summer.
Complementing the Wave’s performance at the swim meet was the significant jump in enrollments in the team this year. The volunteer-run recreational team saw interest rise so much that a few sessions even had waiting lists this year, while the team had to extend their hours at the pool to fit everybody in.
“That’s a change from a couple of years ago, and as a result we have a lot more [kids] at the meet this year. I think around 58 kids are signed up to do the swim meets, and last year we probably had around 30 to 35 kids,” said Erin Schmidt, Woolwich Wave team manager and volunteer.
A lot of the newcomers were kids under the age of 8, said Schmidt, while the team also saw an uptick in interest from boys.
“We have a bunch more boys this year, so I’d say things are looking pretty [good]. Definitely we have a chance to take the boys’ championship this year too if everybody comes out and does well,” she said.
Amongst the many Woolwich swimmers with podium finishes, long-time Wave member Isobel Speiran broke some new ground. No stranger to success in the lanes, Speiran came away with three golds in all her events and two new records as well.
“She broke a 100-metre freestyle record and the 100-metre breaststroke record. So that would be in the 11-and-12-year-old [category],” said Schmidt. Speiran has had more than a few first-place finishes on the team over the years, added Schmidt. “So she’s been a crazy strong swimmer.”
With the ground swell of interest in the team, Schmidt explains that they’ve had to rework their schedule slightly from the normal 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. twice weekly lessons, to include as many people as possible.
“Because we started to get so full, we actually expanded to have instead of just one group of kids that come from 5:30 to 6:30, we’ve split them into three different levels. So we start at 5 p.m., and we have a half-an-hour program for the really little kids, or the new swimmers,” she said.
“And then the intermediate kids, they’ve swam before but they’re still building up endurance, we have a 45-minute class – actually two of them, so we can fit two 45-minute classes in that hour-and-a-half, and then the regular normal swim team session from 5:30 to 6:30.”
Schmidt can’t entirely account for the sudden jump in interest in the team, suggesting word of mouth as partially responsible. However, she is happy to see more youths in the community keeping active and joining the team.
After the Fergus meet last Saturday, the next meet is being held in Kincardine July 7, and then Elmira at the WMC two weeks after that. The finals will again be held in neutral waters in Baden this year on August 11.