Developing swimming talent

Journal Pioneer staff
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Meet lets swimmers set benchmarks, qualify for competitions

SUMMERSIDE – Swimmers from the local Dolphin and the Charlottetown Bluephins clubs had the opportunity to register or improve recorded times in preparation for upcoming competitions, thanks to a development swim meet at Credit Union Place on Saturday.

Tiimers concentrate on recording times of swimmers finishing their heat during the development meet held at Credit Union Place. It was an introduction to competition for some, or a chance to register new personal bests to qualify for upcoming competitions.

“This is a sanctioned meet, so the scores count (officially recorded) to qualify for bigger meets,” explained Swim PEI board member Sandie Boulet who was also volunteering at the event.

The competition was a short one by Swim PEI standards, but 24 events were conducted over the morning. There are usually four to five meets every year on P.E.I., with some of them taking place at Credit Union Place, as well as several off-Island meets including national competitions. Swim meets can last several days, depending on the numbers of swimmers attending.

The development meet involved mainly swimmers who had never been timed in an event, usually because they are novice swimmers or because they are trying a new category. The emphasis was on best times, Boulet explained.

A best time result, however, can mean different things to different swimmers. While the majority of swimmers would finish their heats at relatively the same time as competitor swimmers, there were some for whom the accomplishment of a swim seemed to be the goal. How long it took a swimmer to complete their category swim, however, made no difference to the many volunteers, officials or other swimmers who were awaiting their call to the starting blocks: encouragement was plentiful and sustained for each individual.

Dave Campbell, head coach of the Summerside Dolphin Swim Club, noted that the development meet gave some swimmers their first experience of a competition. It also serves as an opportunity for coaches to evaluate how their training is working for their swimmers, who range between 6 and 18 years of age.

There were 35 Dolphin swimmers and 44 Bluephins swimmers registered at the meet.

Campbell was very happy with the results, estimating that around 90 per cent of swimmers recorded best times during the meet. That number is high, as many of the swimmers did not have a recorded time before the meet, but some swimmers did improve over previous personal records as well.

Bluephins swimmer Blake Kingston, 12, competed in the 100m and 200m free style as well as the 50m breast stroke.

He has been swimming competitively for five years, and prefers the breast stroke to the free style of the day’s competitions.

“I tend to be better, succeed more (in breast) than other styles. I’m faster,” he justified his preference.

His abilities with each stroke show up in the improvements he was able to register during the meet. He said he gained about twenty seconds over his previous best times in the free style categories, but only about five seconds in the breast stroke.

Teammate Stuart Ferguson, 12, recorded all best times as well, relating he gained about five to ten seconds above previous personal records. He competed in the 100m and 200m free style as well as the 100m back stroke.

“I like the back stroke because I find it easier to breathe. I can’t hold my breath long enough,” in free style, he evaluated.

Both boys train at least three times a week. Ferguson has been swimming competitively for four years and enjoys the sport, but admitted that there are times when his interests are divided.

“Sometimes there is another thing I want to do, but I stick with it,” he declared.

The next competition is the Fast and Furious meet in Charlottetown, April 5-6, Campbell advised. It is an open-invitational meet. Further competitions follow in May, including meets in St. John, N.B, and Québec City, Que.

newsroom@journalpioneer.com

Organizations: Credit Union Place, Summerside Dolphin Swim Club

Geographic location: Iceland, Charlottetown, Québec City

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