The Sooke Coho Swim Club is designed to groom young swimmers into professional athletes, but the most prominent benefit may be it’s impact on youth.
Tracey Hopkin’s nine-year-old son, Clarke Hopkins, has been a Sooke Coho for two years. Although the hours in the water can be long, Clarke wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the elementary swim meet in February, which saw school districts 61, 62 and 63 participate, Clarke earned second place in the backstroke category. Despite being in the water for an entire day at Commonwealth pool, the avid swimmer was determined to head to SEAPARC for regular swim practice.
“They work so hard, and they love it,” Hopkins said, whose younger son, Nate Hopkins, 6, is also in the program.
Clarke will be heading into the competitive level in the next season.
Justine Duncan, mother of two Coho swimmers, agreed.
Her son Nicholas Ralph, 8, began his journey as a Sooke Coho in September. Starting at the silver, pre-competitive level, Nicholas was only able to swim one length of the pool in a “doggy paddle” fashion.
Duncan said her son has thrived in the program, and will be bumped up to the competitive level in the fall.
“Now it’s amazing, he just glides through the water,” she said.
Nicholas, who only had six months of Coho experience under his belt, also participated in the elementary swim meet, and earned fifth place in the butterfly category.
“My son doesn’t play hockey or any other sport. For him, this is his sport,” Duncan stated.
The Sooke Coho program is a part of Island Swimming, and is run by experienced coaches, certified to level two, three and four national standard.
It has a pre-competitive and competitive section, and focuses on developing stroke skills, endurance and strength. Other skills learnt include diving and speed turn techniques.
According to Hopkins, the program does not have a life saving component, and focuses predominately on athleticism and sportsmanship.
“This program is really about getting the kids in the pool, and getting them to swim,” she said. “They have aquite a bit of pride in it, they realize that it’s a sport as opposed to a lesson.”
The 31 Sooke Coho kids retired their swim caps at the end the season in June, and will return in September.
Hopkins said most of the kids will be bumped up to the next level, excluding children who have just begun.
Registration for already existing Coho members will be in August, and in September for new entrants.
Fees for the pre-competitive program vary from $57-69 per month, depending on the amount of pool time. Pre-competitive kids are typically in the water for 45 minute sessions twice to three times a week, and have an option of participating in self-evaluating swim meets every month and a half.
Levels for pre-competitive include: bronze, silver and gold.
Costs for the competitive level vary from $50 to $250 per month depending on amount of pool time, from twice to nine times a week for hour-long sessions.
The competitive swimmers participate in about 15 long and short swim meets during the season.
Levels for competitive include: dynamo, crush entry and crush, where athletes will compete in provincial, national and international swim meets.