The Castlegar Aquanauts summer swim team have been working hard preparing for their home meet which is coming up this weekend, July 16 and 17.
Joining the Aquanauts at their home meet will be teams from Creston, Trail, Nelson, Grand Forks, Kimberley, and Colville, Washington.
“This meet is only a four-event meet. We do swim heats in the morning and after lunch we do the finals. The top six from each event move on to the finals in the afternoon,” said head coach Mitch Bourne. “Each swimmer chooses just four of their top events. In our case, the coaches are choosing their events.”
Swimmers will be competing in individual medley, 50-metre freestyle, 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly and medley relay on Saturday; and 1,500-metre backstroke, and 1,500-metre breaststroke, 100-metre freestyle, and 200-metre freestyle relay on Sunday.
The swimmers are divided into eight divisions by age starting at division one, who are seven and eight year olds, all the way up to division eight, which is for swimmers 18 years old and over.
Bourne expects his team to do well, although they are younger than many of the other clubs that will be at the meet.
“Some of the teams have different demographics. We’re pretty bottom heavy, so we have a lot of beginning swimmers from ages four to 10 that make up I’d say 70 per cent of our club,” said Bourne. “Trail is pretty top heavy, they have a lot of experienced swimmers there.”
The Aquanauts are in week 11 of their 12 week training program; affectionately known as “hell week.”
“This is the time where we load on the intensity of workouts and the volume of kilometres we swim. Just today, I think we swam five kilometres in an hour and a half,” said Bourne after Tuesday’s practice. “After hell week it’s not too expected that swimmers will be swimming at their best because they will be tired after swimming up to 26 kilometres this week. We don’t expect best times, but we hope to see some stellar performances regardless.”
Bourne is pleased with the team’s progress during the summer season.
“It’s been really nice seeing the kids progress over the year. We’ve got some of our experienced swimmers that are kind of in a plateau phase. They’re not expected to get best times every weekend, that’s just kind of how their bodies work,” he said. “But a lot of our newer swimmers are improving every week which is great. Everyone is doing really well this hell week so far.”
The Aquanauts club is a popular one with 67 athletes registered to compete this weekend at the home meet.
“It’s a really good summer club. Lots of hours and lots of activities. They have their friends in it which keeps them in. The work hard and battle through sets and dry land challenges. It really helps them bond,” said Bourne, who returned this year to coach the club after previously coaching the Aquanauts in 2007 and 2008.
“It’s extremely physically demanding and very emotionally demanding. You need a lot of mental strength, physical strength, and dedication.”
The Castlegar meet will be the fifth meet of the season for the Aquanauts. Their final meet will be in Kimberley on July 23 and 24 followed by the regional championships in Castlegar in early August.
“We’ve been doing pretty consistently well. We’ve been improving every meet. I think we’ve been consistently ranked second behind Trail. Trail has a well established team and they’re senior heavy so they kind of dominate the upper divisions,” said Bourne.
“With the younger swimmers you’ve got a steep learning curve. You get lots of disqualifications. We’re one of the biggest teams in the region. But we’re not one of the most driving forces, yet. We’re looking forward to the future. We’re bottom heavy, so we can only grow and get better from here.”
Bourne urges anyone interested to come down and watch some fast swimming and intense competition at the Castlegar Community Complex.