Good coaching and a group of individuals willing to put in the effort usually makes for a good team. That's exactly what Squamish Pirates Swim Club head coach Kelly Kay has put together in the pool at Brennan Park.
A total of 45 competitive swimmers, ranging in age from six to 46, practice and learn each of the four fundamental swimming strokes - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle - as many as nine times per week.
"We had 27 swimmers go to provincials last year, so we've got some very strong swimmers here," said Kay, who has been coaching the Pirates for the past four years. "We're trying to have all swimmers become really well-rounded in all four strokes."
This year, the local summer squad will be hosting its first swim meet on June 20, and will also be welcoming more than 350 Lower Mainland swimmers to the regional championships on Aug. 7-8.
At the regional competition, the top three swimmers in each category head to the provincial championships in Burnaby, and Coach Kay likes the Pirates' chances of sending even more swimmers to compete against the province's best. Due to the advantage of hosting the event in their home pool, Kay thinks her swimmers will feed off of the positive energy.
"They feel comfortable here," said Kay. "They know the blocks and the wall - it's their training pool so they know it very well. And there's something about the overall energy of hosting a meet - they all seem to swim well. I'd like to see a large percentage of our team go to provincials this year."
Kay is no stranger to swimming well herself. She still holds the record in her age category for the fastest breaststroke in the province, and was a member of Canada's National Swim Team before turning to coaching.
"She's an excellent coach - the kids all idolize her," said Pirates past president Francine Erickson. "They all have a really strong bond with her. Until she came along, nobody ever swam in the morning - now they get up at 5:30 in the morning and come to the pool. We owe a large part of the success of the team to her."
Because the team is involved in the summer league, they were limited to practicing just twice a week throughout the winter, but have now picked up the pace in preparation for the first of many swim meets this summer. Their first meet is in Richmond the first week of June, and they will compete every weekend until the regionals in August. Although they have a very successful club, the Pirates are still looking for anyone interested in competitive swimming to come and join the team. They are offering a special two-week trial for beginner and experienced swimmers who want a chance to practice with the team and compete in the summer meets.
"There is a really good sense of camaraderie amongst the kids," said Erickson. "Everyone is very welcoming and every different age group is represented."
Even those who are intimidated by swimming long distances and endless laps will be pleasantly surprised.
"Beginner swimmers will find that they can go from swimming one lap to swimming 40 laps within a month and a half," she said.
The cost of the two-week trial is $50, which is applied towards insurance. If you chose to continue, the money will be applied to registration for the season. Anybody interested, can call Francine Erickson at 604-898-3799.