Kids in the West Kootenay had the chance to swim with an Olympian over the weekend.
Brent Hayden, who won a bronze medal for Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and a gold at the World Aquatic Championships in 2007, was in Castlegar over the weekend, holding a Brent Hayden Swim Camp (BHSC) hosted by the Kootenay Swim Club. Participating swimmers were not only from the Kootenay Swim Club, but also the Castlegar Aquanauts, the Nelson Neptunes and Trail. The juniors spent two hours with Hayden in the pool each day, while the seniors spent three hours in the pool on both Saturday and Sunday. Both groups also spent some time in the classroom with Hayden, learning about nutrition and the mental aspect of sport.
During the classroom portion, Hayden shared his journey from being a young, unfocused swimmer who failed swimming lessons to standing on the Olympic podium in London.
“Not everyone has to be born with an obvious talent,” said Hayden. Talent can be developed through hard work and dedication and perseverance. Just because you weren’t necessarily born with the gifts of a certain task, maybe you were born with the ability to push through obstacles that other people wouldn’t have been able to face.”
Hayden held a similar camp in Castlegar last year, and many of the kids seemed familiar with him and even to idolize him a little bit. When Hayden told the kids that he’d brought hats from his new clothing line, the kids were aware of the line and were excited about getting a hat. Many of them also wore BHSC t-shirts.
“It’s great because we get to build on what we were able to teach them last year and then be able to throw in some new stuff on top of that,” Hayden said of his returning students.
The Kootenay Swim Club’s goal in holding the camp was to help promote swimming as a sport and bolster its own membership.
“Our philosophy as a club is to promote the mental aspect of sport and the sport of swimming. With the amount of choices that families have between soccer and hockey and lacrosse and mountain biking and skiing, there’s a lot of pulls on the purse string,” said David McCullough, president of the Kootenay Swim Club. “We’ve noticed that with the Stingrays and TRAX (Trail Regional Aquatic Excellence) as a competitive club in Trail, Nelson with the Neptunes, Aquanauts in Castlegar, there’s a lot of different components. So we’re trying not to protect our membership, but bolster our membership and promote swimming as a sport. That’s a hard thing to do when you have two different associations and five different clubs. Everyone is fighting for membership.”
The Kootenay Swim Club and TRAX are affiliated with Swim BC, Swimming Canada and the Fédération International de Natation (FINA), whereas the Aquanauts, Neptunes and Trail Stingrays are associated with the BC Summer Swim Association.
McCullough hopes that having Hayden put on one of his camps will show kids that they can go far in the sport.
“Swimming isn’t hockey, but it is an essential piece of sport and having an Olympian come to our community to share the goals are achievable if you put your mind to it, so that it’s not just a picture on the TV screen,” said McCullough. “Here’s an individual that’s live and in person and can tell them what he did to get there, and how he accomplished it; it motivates them to continue in the sport and gives them the proper technique to develop in the sport.”
“I would love for them to stick in swimming. Canada has a history of a lot of talented swimmers coming from small towns,” said Hayden, who grew up in Mission, BC.