Competitive swimming is no longer just a summer sport in Squamish.
The SwimFaster program has arrived in town and program director Juan Gomez said he's hoping to replicate the success he's had teaching youth the fundamentals in North Vancouver.
“The purpose of SwimFaster is to help develop the technical skills of swimming from a very early age,” he said, during one of SwimFaster's free sessions at Brennan Park. “The core of this program is technical skills and we create a safe and fun environment for the kids to learn.”
Gomez said he incorporates fun and games into the lessons but makes sure that there is the underlying purpose of developing the child's skills in the water.
He started the program four years ago in North Vancouver and now helps hone the skills of more than 80 swimmers, some of whom compete provincially and nationally. Gomez said it's only natural to bring the program to Squamish.
“This is the recreational capital of Canada and Swim B.C. even has their head office in town,” he said. “We wanted to give local swimmers the option of being able to compete in some of the winter events throughout B.C.”
Gomez acknowledged the success and the place the Squamish Pirates have in the community, but said SwimFaster will give youth the chance to continue swimming all year as the Pirates only compete in the summer.
“We respect what the Pirates have done for the community and they have a long history in Squamish,” he said. “We're a second alternative for the community and I think we can be something that complements the Pirates.”
Swimming has been a lifelong passion for Gomez. He competed at the Pan American Games in the sport and has a long history of coaching in Mexico and the U.S.
“I've been in swimming all my life as a competitive swimmer and now I'm dedicated to give back,” he said.
The North Vancouver resident has also hired a Squamish-based coach — Lenka Fanturova.
“She's a great athlete and great with the kids,” he said, noting that he's also hiring some local swimmers to help Fanturova. Gomez said he expects a total of eight coaches to be involved in the Squamish program.
Fanturova has a degree in physical education and has had a stellar summer competing in triathlons throughout the province. She placed 16th overall at the Squamish Triathlon in July and won the sprint division at the Sooke Triathlon in August.
All practices for SwimFaster will take place at Brennan Park and begin on Monday (Sept. 10). For more information on the program and details on how to register, visit www.swimfaster.ca.