Tide is turning for Rip Current masters

Swim club competed for the first time in meet in Nanaimo

The SEAPARC Rip Currents swimmers

Fifth place out of 18 teams at an Island swim meet is not a bad place to be, especially when you take into account that many of the members on the new SEAPARC Rip Currents masters swimming team have never competed before.

Coach Jen Bell said they were “absolutely phenomenal” at the competition that took place in Nanaimo a few weeks ago,  and had more made the trip instead of just the six that went they could have contended for a top three finish.

Masters swimming is an international adult program that is a carry over from competitive swimming, said Bell. There are regional, provincial national and even world events.

“It’s for anybody — you have to be (at least) 19 to join. Once your swimming career is over, the only place you can go to is masters.”

On the Sooke team, members range in age from 30 to 70, with about half training for various triathlons. There are more elderly people joining swimming than ever before, which Bell guessed is due to the increasing trend of being health conscious.

To participate, “you just have to be able to swim somewhat,” she said. At practices, she focuses on what she calls the “technical stuff” like breathing, body positioning and movement.

The Rip Currents are part of the Swim Fit program at the pool, also for adults working with a trained coach on swimming strokes and endurance but who don’t compete. Many people take part in both clubs.

Bell, who has been swimming since she was 16 and coached for 24 years, said some of her students were intimidated by the thought of competition. She stressed that the whole point is to have fun and there is a definite camaraderie that exists amongst swimmers.

Next for her group is the provincials at Commonwealth Pool in Saanich on March 30. If they qualify, they will move on to the nationals in Kelowna. Practices take place in the evenings on Monday and Wednesday, and mornings on Tuesday and Thursday. The cost is $6 per session, for more information call SEAPARC aquatic programmer Elizabeth Olsen at  250-542-8007 or by email: eolsen@crd.bc.ca.

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