They’re not just about teaching kids how to swim. The Columbia Valley Swim Club gives kids survival skills and an opportunity to volunteer. Head Coach Karen Fahrni explained that the club offers a volunteer program that allows their older athletes to be lesson instructors, working with her to teach the younger swimmers.
Fahrni says the program allows athletes to give back to their community by volunteering.
“I always think if you don’t teach kids to volunteer at a young age they don’t see the value of it when they get older,” said Fahrni.
This year the club has had 130 registered kids go through the program, giving kids swim skills and water safety training.
“With the swim lessons, the importance with them is the water safety, knowing not to swim alone, learning to wear a life jacket when you are swimming, what to do if you fall through the ice– there are so many important things to learn in swimming lessons to teach kids at a young age,” said Fahrni.
This spring the club received a grant to allow them to offer affordable swim lessons to four elementary schools including Eileen Madison, J.A. Laird, Windermere, and Edgewater, giving roughly 200 local kids the opportunity to learn how to swim.
“We’ve always believed we’re a lake community, there’s rivers and lakes. Every child in this community should have basic swim skills. Even if you’re boating in a life jacket, there’s risk involved if you’re not comfortable,” said Fahrni.
The club isn’t just about swimming lessons. They have an active group of competitive swimmers who travel around to different swim meets in the region. This season the club had one swimmer, Taylor Lightfoot, who made it to the B.C. double-A provincial meet.
“Taylor, she actually qualified r the double A provincials this year and we went to Chilliwack and she competed February 17 to the 19th and she had incredible swims there and she even made finals on the last day. She swam very well,” said Fahrni.
The club is currently preparing for their final meet of the season which just so happens to be the one they host, The fourth annual Columbia Valley Otters Spring Invitational on June, 4th.
“It’s a sanctioned swim meet and we host teams from around our region so Canmore, Calgary, Cranbrook they all come up and participate in a one day meet. It’s sort of unique because it’s an outdoor venue so we don’t have a lot of outdoor meets in Canada and this is one of them,” said Fahrni.
After the invitational, the competitive season will be over until September but the club will shift into their summer program which includes running the Red Cross swim lessons out of Radium Hot Springs. These lessons run in July and August and are popular among locals and summer visitors so Fahrni recommends parents sign their kids up sooner rather than later by visiting the clubs website: http://www.columbiavalleyswim.com/