A swim meet held at Sylvan Lake Aquatic Centre attracted young swimmers from across the province Saturday.
Tim Hortons Fall Invitational Swim Meet, hosted by Sylvan Lake Nauticals Swim Club, saw 150 swimmers between the ages of seven and 15 compete for medals and ribbons.
Seven swim clubs were represented at the meet including Sylvan Lake Nauticals, Red Deer Catalina, Canadian Badlands (Drumheller/Airdrie), Rocky Barracudas (Rocky Mountain House), Sherwood Park Stingrays, Three Hills Neons and Parkland Pirates (Spruce Grove).
Meet manager Tracy Carson was happy with participation, and with the positive feedback she’s received about the meet.
“I think, for the most part, the perception was that it was excellent,” she said. “Kids had a great time, and parents seemed happy.”
For Nautical Nicholas Moore, the meet was his first as a competitive swimmer. He admitted to feeling both nervous and excited at the same time, but appreciated the opportunity to compete.
“It was a fun meet,” he said.
Red Deer had the highest representation at the meet, with 43 of its swimmers participating. Sylvan Lake wasn’t far behind with 32 swimmers competing.
Carson said that of the Nauticals’ 99 swimmers, about 35 of them are competitive. Those participating at the meet on Saturday represented almost the club’s entire competitive body.
“To have 32 (competing) is awesome,” said Carson, adding that club membership has grown significantly this year.
For some Nauticals, having the chance to compete in their home pool is one of the biggest allures of the meet.
Ann Duffy appreciated the “familiarity of the pool”.
“It was a nice change not to have to drive any distance to compete,” she said.
Jordan Smith claimed the pool is “like home”, having grown up training and competing in it.
Medals at the meet were awarded for the top three swimmers in each event, while ribbons were presented to those who finished outside the top three. Ribbons were also awarded to swimmers who achieved personal best times.
Carson said the tournament, which is held annually, is growing in size. More and more clubs get involved with it each year, some making it a regular stop as they participate in meets around the province.
Others attended for the first time.
“I think it’s pretty well known,” said Carson. “We’re just getting bigger.”
Sponsors provided lunch for all participants at the meet, ensuring everyone was well fed, she added.
A “mock” meet was held the night before the Fall invitational, and allowed Nauticals’ non-competitive swimmers the chance to become better acquainted with the meet format.
They learned dives and race techniques, and helped organizers setup the timing system.
Some swimmers, such as Nautical Jayna Keast — who participated in Saturday’s meet — take advantage of any possible opportunity to get in the pool and improve their skills.
“I like to push myself harder every day to accomplish more,” she said.
Trials for 2014 Alberta Summer Games — to be held in Airdrie in July — will make up the next major swimming event in Sylvan Lake at the beginning of June.
Swimmers from all over Zone 4 (Parkland) will take part in what Carson feels will act as something of a “mini meet”.
“There’s going to be a lot of swimmers,” she said.