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Woolwich swimmers dive forward to finals

The Woolwich Wave girls’ relay team broke a 28-year record in the 100-metre medley in the girls 9 & 10 division, a course that requires each team member to perform a different type of swim. Leah Eckmier, Angela Levac, Kayla Raben and Emily Arnold make up the winning combination. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

The Woolwich Wave swim team has had a strong season so far and is now gearing up for their final competition against the rival Fergus Flippers and Kincardine Kippers in the neutral waters of New Hamburg’s Wilmot Recreation Complex this weekend.

The Woolwich Wave season began June 22, with practices biweekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays to prepare for four separate South Western Ontario Recreational Swimming Association (SWORSA) swim meets. The team is in good shape to take on the challenge, having six members of their team break decades-old records in their respective divisions.

For instance, 12-year-old Isobel Speiran has already broken several records, including the 100-metre individual medley in the girls 11 & 12 with a time of 1.22.27. It was enough to beat the previous time from 15 years ago (2004) of 1.22.72.

No stranger to success in the lanes, Speiran said the upcoming competition would be an opportunity to push herself even further, aiming to beat every single time in her division.

“At this point, it feels amazing with every single one of them,” said Speiran. “After the two meets of not breaking any records, I’m as motivated as ever to get these final two records.

“I’m pretty proud of myself for breaking the ones I’ve broken so far … but it’s always in the back of my mind that I can always go for more and there’s a new goal I need to achieve.”

Speiran has been on the Woolwich Wave team for six years, whose previous accomplishments include holding the record for the 11 & 12 50-metre freestyle with a time of 33.06, as well as the 100-metre freestyle in the same division with a time of 01.19.30.

“It’s a big commitment for me after six years of being on the swim team, I make sure it’s always my priority; I always show up to practice on time, because you really have to make the most of that two hours you got a week,” said Speiran.

“I feel pretty great so far. It’s a pretty big deal on the swim team, breaking a record; everyone congratulates you for it. I’ve broken my fair share of records so far, so not a lot of people get too surprised anymore,” she added with a laugh.

The Woolwich Wave swim team, gathered up for a group photo at the semi-final meet July 27 at the WMC, has seen enrollment numbers grow year after year. [Submitted] 
The team has experienced success all-round; the relay team, Leah Eckmier, Angela Levac, Kayla Raben and Emily Arnold, broke the record in the 100-metre medley relay in the girls 9 & 10 division with a time of 01:22:09 – the previous record from 1991 was three seconds longer.

Arnold and Eckmier added that the experience taught them effective breathing techniques.

Levac also beat quite a few times on her own individually in her 9 & 10 division: in the 50-metre freestyle, she broke a record from 1990 (35.87) with a final time of 35.87.

While it may be an athletic accomplishment, one of the team managers, Erin Schmidt, added that the Woolwich Wave was more of a friendly atmosphere than competitive.

“We call ourselves recreationally competitive,” explained Schmidt. “I think one of the things that I really liked seeing out here is that a lot of these kids get to become really good friends, in many ways. They really enjoy coming out and seeing each other. Even though they’re working on it individually, it is a team environment.”

The Woolwich Wave swim team has grown in popularity over the years, reaching membership numbers of nearly 100 kids across all of the divisions.

“Enrollment has actually been going up year over year,” said Schmidt. “We’re actually full, all the time. I feel like it could fit a couple of little kids in the summer –  we’re just doing registration for the fall.

“We’ve had a waiting list over the past couple years.”

Swimmers will put their skills to the test this Saturday (August 10) at the Wilmot Recreation Complex.

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