Two local swimmers are hoping to head up to swim at the university level next fall.
Cianna Dunn and Ali Beck are both members of the Campbell River Killer Whales swim club. Dunn started with the Killer Whales when she was very young, probably about five or six, she says.
“I started in the I Can Swim program,” she says. “I just kind of worked my way up.”
She now coaches the program twice a week, something she has done since she was 15.
Her colleague Beck has spent the last half dozen years with the Killer Whales after first getting involved with competitive swimming with the local summer program.
As younger swimmers, they would have taken part in all categories during meets because swimmers don’t usually specialize until their mid-teens.
“You don’t really need to specialize until you’re older,” says Dunn, who now focuses on back stroke.
Beck, meanwhile, has put her efforts into distance freestyle.
The two like to use swimming as a means to compete against other high-level swimmers. For Dunn, one of her biggest highlights took place at an event in Quebec at the nationals in 2015.
“It was a relay we did, and we got third,” she says. “That was kind of my highlight.”
For Beck, she travelled to Winnipeg in the spring and qualified for western finals swimming a 1500-metre freestyle.
Both are now in Grade 12 and looking toward their futures, which hopefully includes becoming student-athletes at the post-secondary level.
Currently, they are busy with school, along with competing in the pool and coaching other swimmers.
“I teach younger swimmers what I’ve learned throughout the years,” Dunn said.
She works with the young competitive swimmers, most about 10, on basic strokes like butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and freestyle, as well as how to do dives and turns, and she enjoys a being a role model to them.
“It’s nice to teach young swimmers,” she says.
Beck has also been working as a coach with the local Special Olympics program, usually helping out a couple of times a week.
She has done this for three years and works with swimmers 13 years and up along with swimmers with more advanced swimming abilities, such as Paul Aubuchon.
“Last year, one of my swimmers went to nationals,” she says. “I teach them all the strokes just like you would for any competitive [swimming].”
As far as balancing coaching with competitions and school, they admit it’s hard and requires a lot of a dedication to the sport, which means making schedule adjustments such as using time from free blocks at school to come to the pool.
“We stay committed to it,” Beck says.
Both swimmers are hoping to get a scholarship, in some cases, by reaching out to the schools.
Schools themselves, too, keep track of swimmers’ times at meets and often reach out to the students about coming to join their programs. For now, their hope is to land an opportunity to practise with the university programs.
Beck and Dunn will be heading off to the University of Lethbridge at the beginning of the December to do just that for training over an extended weekend.
“They reached out to our coach,” Beck says. “We’re going down to train with them.”
The two are also looking at other schools to keep their opportunities open.
Beyond competing at the university level, Beck wants to go into nursing, while Dunn is looking at first-year sciences before deciding where to specialize
“There’s so many things you can do,” she says.