Thursday, 29 June 2017 08:00

Oyen Otters help swimmers improve their skills

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For more than 20 years the Oyen Otters Swim Club has been helping youth stay active, improve their swim skills and excel competitively if they so choose.

The Otters season starts after the May long weekend once the Shirley McClellan Aquatic Centre — an outdoor facility — is open to the public. A wrap-up event ends the season for the club members usually near the end of August.
“We have a jamboree the first week of June,” explains Jolene Haag, Otters club president.
The two-day event allows youths starting at age five and participants into adulthood to try out club participation and see what takes place at daily practices. The club is meant for all ages, as people can use it as a way to improve their skills in the water, build up endurance or just for additional exercise and to improve fitness levels. Some youth also want to compete.
This season there are about 16 club members, although that number can change throughout the summer.
The group ranges in age from six to 14, but has included older members from year to year depending on the public’s interest.
Swim practices are held Monday to Wednesdays for an hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and then on Thursdays a longer event is arranged from 5:30-7 p.m. as it includes a nutrition focus, says Haag, as well as a mini-meet. Dryland training usually takes place before every practice.
The group hopes to travel to some other areas this summer to compete in meets such as Hanna. They don’t usually travel too far, and how many meets the group takes part in also changes from year to year depending on the interest of swimmers. Last year for example, the Otters took part in only one regional meet in the summer, says Haag.
Often, the club ends up dividing into two groups. Some members focus on the competitive side of swimming learning from one coach, while the other group works with a second coach to improve their strokes or cardio and general fitness levels.
Almost any youth is able to join the swim club if interested.
“As long as they can swim a length (of the pool), they can come out,” says Haag.
The club is open to participants with a variety of skill levels so it can remain viable from season to season. The cost to become an Otter is minimal at $75 per swimmer or $200 per family.
Club members and executive work casinos every few years in order to be able to fundraise money to help cover the costs of equipment, coaching and to help attend meets.
Coaches this year include Shane Kimber as head coach and Dylan Berg as assistant coach. Kimber was himself an Otter and assistance coach last year for the club as he spends his summer break from post-secondary school in Oyen, working at the pool as a lifeguard. Berg has also been an Otter and just completed his final year of high school. He looks forward to working the summer as a lifeguard and the club’s assistant coach.
Haag, who grew up in Oyen, but didn’t get to be able to join a swim club, says the Otters offers a lot of advantages to youth.
“You can (swim) as a team or as an individual; for fitness or to compete. There is an open range of advantages you can get out of it,” she points out. “Plus we have a beautiful facility here, so it’s a great way to make use of that.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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