Red Deer Marlins send 49 athletes to provincial championships

Summer swim club comes home with lots of hardware

The Red Deer Marlins Swim Club recently competed at their provincial championships in Edmonton at the Kinsmen Sports Centre.

The summer swimming club sent 49 athletes to compete against some of the best pool athletes in the province.

“We start swimming in May and this was our final wrap-up for the season,” said Marlins’ Swim Club representative Christine Squire. “We have swim meets every weekend all throughout the season. We had our biggest meet for Region D which was last weekend. The top two swimmers — gold and silver — from each event there qualifies to go to provincials.”

With 49 out of 80 swimmers competing, the Marlins were well represented in Edmonton.

“It is a big deal because all of the top swimmers in Alberta were competing over this past weekend,” she said. “It is pretty exciting — all the top swimmers were in that huge pool. It is cool because we have eight-year-olds that qualified to go there. We have little kids in this huge pool that are the best swimmers in Alberta.”

The Marlins finished fifth place in the province in the large team division and Owen Halford set a provincial record for the 50m breaststroke with a time of 33.70 seconds. The mixed under 14 relay team also set a record in the 200m with a time of 1:55.28. The Marlins overall won 15 gold medals, 15 silvers and eight bronze medals.

“Our kids worked really hard all season and we have some really strong athletes,” Squire said. “Records were broken. We are proud of how everyone did this weekend and some kids are winning over and over again. We have a really strong club.”

Squire explained the huge success of the group is consistent with their effort throughout the summer.

“They train five days per week in the pool and there is also dry land training,” she said. “It is incredible to see the younger swimmers who could barely swim 25 metres and end up qualifying for provincials by the end of the season.”

The quick progression is due to the supports put in place by the club.

“There are a lot of reasons,” she said. “We have great coaches; it is a great family sport; there are lots friendships and the team spirit is unbelievable. The kids all train together and then they have to go up on the blocks against them to race against them. It is so cool to see these kids giving each other handshakes and hugs.”

The provincials require some adjustment for Marlin swimmers due to the fact that Red Deer only has 25m pool training facilities.

“It was a huge pool,” Squire said. “There are 16 lanes, which is divided into a fast pool and a slow pool. This can be intimidating — it is a big place with spectators all around the entire pool. There is a warm-up they go to in the morning and afternoon so they can get a feel for the pool.

“It is a totally different system for them — they have to swim hard right into the wall to hit the touch-pads and some of the more little kids have to be lifted out of the pool because it is so big and deep compared to what they are used to.”

Squire was really impressed with the team spirit shown by all the Marlins at provincials.

“There are lots of pep talks, pats on the back and things like that,” she said. “They know they have each other’s backs. Everybody is cheering for each other.”

Provincials signify the end of the season for the Marlins, however many of the athletes are multi-sport athletes who will continue to excel throughout the winter months.

“We are done for swimming now — we will see each other again when we start in March when we start registration,” Squire said. “May 1st is usually the time we get together in the pool again.”

She added, “The Marlins are a great swim club and I encourage anyone who is interested in swimming to come out next March to our registration night. Even kids who can’t swim 25 metre at the beginning of the season can do a mile — which is 64 lengths — by the end of the season. It is really incredible.”

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com