Swimming isn’t easy, but for those willing to put in hard work, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding pastime.
Erica Bolze, head coach of the Lacombe Dolphins swim club, said that swimming is a sport for those athletes looking to push their limits.
“It’s not an easy sport, we push them really hard,” said Bolze.
However, Bolze also said swimming has benefits like fitness, improved self-esteem and the learning of new skills.
Bolze has been with the Dolphins for about 12 years with her time as a swimmer and a coach combined.
She said she isn’t sure how long the club itself has existed, but knows it was around long before she joined.
It was the challenge of swimming that appealed to Bolze and what she said draws a lot of other athletes to the sport. While the sport is challenging and demands commitment and hard work, Bolze said the
Dolphins strive to find a balance between fun and competition.
“We’re really focused on having fun,” said Bolze. “That’s what we call our main rule. But we are also very competitive.”
Throughout the season, the Lacombe Dolphins will participate in about five swim meets as well as regional and provincial meets. Last month, the Dolphins held their own swim meet here in Lacombe at the Kinsmen Aquatic Centre.
Bolze said it was the first meet of the season and a chance for new swimmers to gain experience and for more experienced ones to shake off a little rust.
“It was very much a learning experience,” said Bolze. “It was our first meet back in the water . . . so it was very much getting back into it.”
Now approaching the end of the season with only five weeks left, Bolze said the club is in full swing training for regionals and provincials.
She said the club’s next two meets, in Ponoka and Killam, will have swimmers participating in their best events.
At the beginning of the season, Bolze said the swimmers participate in a number of different swimming events to see where they fare best. In these last two meets, the swimmers choose their best events to compete in, sort of like a practice session for the regional competition, which will take place when swimmers return after the August long weekend.
While it is no easy feat to qualify for the provincial competition, Bolze is confident in the swimmers’ abilities.
She said although this year’s team is fairly young, they have shown great commitment and that commitment has built up over the years.
“They’re really committed and they work themselves really hard,” said Bolze. “I’m confident with the progress of the year that they will be really happy with how they do at regionals.”
Bolze said the Dolphins have been doing fairly well this season.
She added that improvement is more important than placing though. Instead of judging swimmers’ progression by how well they place compared to other swimmers,
Bolze said the club tries to judge swimmers on how they fare against their own previous times.
“If they go to a swim meet and beat their time, that’s a huge thing,” said Bolze.
“That’s how we like to look at success and judge it, is if they are getting better, if they are improving their own personal skills.”
So far, Bolze is impressed with how the swimmers are performing this season. She said between 75% and 80% of the Club’s 80-plus swimmers are consistently beating their times.
“A lot of them have really improved this year.”
It takes a fair amount of dedication and commitment to excel in the sport of swimming. Bolze said the Club’s senior swimmers practice two hours a day five times a week.
“They have quite extensive training,” said Bolze. She added that younger swimmers in the Club’s intermediate and junior levels swim twice a week for an hour and a half and an hour respectively.
However, those who put so much effort into training do so because they love the sport. Bolze said that some of the senior swimmers even practice outside of Club training time when they are already swimming six times a week on weeks when there is a meet.
“They really enjoy it.”