The Terrace Bluebacks Swim Club disbanded this past year due to the closure of the Terrace Aquatic Centre, but are now hoping to run a partial swim season this spring.
The date for the pool re-opening is still uncertain, now set for June, so the club’s executive met in late-March and decided they’ll likely run their shortened June-July program.
“We’re a little bit wait and see right now,” said Bluebacks swim coach Mike Christensen.
“We won’t run a full club… but likely we will run a similar program to what we’ve done in previous years for June and July, which is primarily morning swims for those top athletes.”
In a normal year, the Bluebacks swim six times a week from October to early-June and then in June and July training tapers off to four times a week just for top athletes, who are preparing for provincials and Summer Games.
This year the club has lost its regular season, but hopes to run its competitive training in the spring, and plans to ramp up early next season.
“We’ll likely do our tryout camp in August sometime, and the full program will start in September,” said Christensen, adding that it will be a month early because the pool won’t be closing in September for it’s usual maintenance.
Looking at the swimmers, most of the kids have found other sports to get involved in this year, but a few have travelled to Kitimat and joined the Marlin Swim Club for the season.
At first there were six kids from Terrace going — Nolen Knox, Colby Bowles, Juliet Lukasser, Jake Kluss, Mackenzie Bannister and Aubrey Jingles.
The parents were splitting the driving, but now only Nolen and Colby still make the trip.
The boys travel there three times a week and parents Greg Knox, Jeannine Knox and Keri Eisner take turns doing the driving.
Eisner, Colby’s mom, said she was just happy it worked for her schedule, because she wanted Colby to be able to go.
“Swimming has done so much for Colby and he loves it so much,” she said. “I just couldn’t say no to him when he asked to continue.”
Eisner said the Marlins have been very welcoming and it’s been a good experience for Colby.
“Going to Kitimat has actually benefited him because he has had the experience of having different coaches and learning different techniques,” she said. Each coach is different and improves his swimming in different ways.
As for Nolen, his dad Greg said they decided to drive to Kitimat because it was Nolen’s only option for swimming, and they didn’t want to hamper his competitive abilities.
“Nolen is very committed to swimming and it was our only option to keep him in the sport,” he said. “Taking a year and a half out would have likely meant the end of competitive swimming for him, and Nolen really excels at it.”
“We are very appreciative of the Kitimat Marlins,” Greg said. “They have been very welcoming and have provided excellent coaching and support.”
At the same time, Jeannine adds that the whole experience has fostered a deeper appreciation for the Bluebacks club.
“When you go to different teams you realize how positive and incredible the Terrace Bluebacks are,” said Jeannine.
“We’re really fortunate in Terrace… parents are really supportive and they’re really positive. And Mike (Christensen) is a dream, and all the other coaches… the organization and the attitude is so positive.
“Kitimat did a great job helping us, I just realized how special we have it here,” she said, adding that the coaches give up so much time for the kids.
Both Nolen and Colby hope to join the Bluebacks again this the spring.
Nolen qualified for the Summer Games this year, with Colby as the alternate, and several of the female Bluebacks also qualified based on last year’s times.
Juliet Lukasser, Avery Back and Aubrey Gingles all qualified, with Caelyn Christensen as the alternate, but Back and Gingles have decided to compete in soccer instead of swimming at the Summer Games.