Long road to championships for Campbell River swimmers

Most youth sports require only a couple hours weekly for practice and competition, but swimming is an entirely different story.

Often training six days a week, occasionally twice a day, swimmers rack up far more training hours than competition hours. Swim meets happen on average once a month, so those few minutes of racing need to count, and they need to showcase the hard work put into practice.

The Campbell River Killer Whales are entering into their championship season after five long months of training. In preparation for championships, the athletes attended several smaller invitational meets in order to hone their race strategy and pinpoint their weaknesses to better work on them in practice.

In November, CRKW hosted their very own Winter Classic meet, inviting teams from all over the Island to attend. This was the first meet for many new young competitors, and the seasoned veterans got to set an example and lead them through the meet with enthusiasm. In early December, the team travelled to Victoria for the Christmas Cracker meet hosted by Pacific Coast Swimming. This meet is always a swimmer favourite; PCS goes out of their way to decorate Saanich Commonwealth Place like a winter wonderland, and the Grinch attends finals sessions in the afternoons to toss candy to the athletes.

Another fun meet leading into championships season is CRKW’s own Eliminator Challenge here in Campbell River. The club saw great success in the Eliminator event, which involved six swimmers racing a 50m freestyle and the meet referee “eliminating” the last to touch the wall before repeating the event again and again until only one swimmer remained, victorious.

Meets like these, which have an undeniable aspect of fun, are important to the development of well-rounded swimmers. If athletes get stuck in the constant “train-race-repeat” cycle, they are susceptible to burnout. It’s important to balance effort and performance with fun so that they don’t get bored or overly fatigued.

Two weeks ago at the Vancouver Island Regional Championships all the long hours of training, travel, and competition paid off. CRKW brought a team of 18 to Duncan to compete against the top Vancouver Island swimmers and came away with third place on the women’s side. The team also took home 40 medals, including 19 gold earned by Summer Wenger, Brooke Wenger, Kaya Lathangue, Martina Montana, Cianna Dunn, Kara Beauregard, and Emily Magowan. Their top 12 and under girls owned the podium in 200 freestyle, taking home all three medals in that event on top of winning gold in both the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay.

On the heels of that victory, CRKW is looking forward to a number of upcoming meets including a trip to Winnipeg for the Prairie Winter International meet in March.

Until the next meet, the Killer Whales will be training, as usual, at Strathcona Gardens.