By Jim Bailey
Times Sports Editor
The 24th B.C. Seniors Games is just on the horizon but local swimmers have been kicking and pulling towards it all year and many for much longer than that.
Barb Roberts, Rossland Zone 6 Director for the Games, has been a member and organizer of the seniors swimming contingent, the Cocoons, for over 20 years.
The name is a wink and a nod to a 1980’s Ron Howard film “Cocoon” where a group of seniors are reinvigorated by the mysterious properties of an alien orb.
But this cadre of front-crawlers from Trail, Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, and Grand Forks has found its magic in the pool.
In last year’s Seniors Games , the West Kootenay swimmers took home nearly half the total medal haul, 41 out of 103 medals, with Grand Forks’ 87-year-old Betty Brussel winning six golds in the 85-89 age group.
“She’s our golden girl, she usually rakes in all the gold medals,” said Roberts.
Most of the team met up last week for a training session at the Trail Aquatic Centre.
“They usually train at their home pools,” said Roberts.
“But we wanted to because the meet is going to take place here for the Games so a lot of them have never been in this pool.”
The swimmers familiarize themselves with the starting blocks, count their strokes from the flags to the end of the pool for turns and finishes, and adjust to water temperature and other variables that can make a difference in a close race.
Along with other Zone swimmers, the Cocoons will enter a full complement of racers with three going in each of seven divisions for men and women, for a total of 42 swimmers.
They level of competitiveness has not waned over the years either, says Roberts.
“There’s lots of competition, I mean it’s really quite amazing. We’ve got ex-Olympians and past Commonwealth Games people still swimming.”
But in addition to the competitive spirit that fires the Cocoons, the social aspect prevails on a daily basis.
“The comraderie is just fabulous, we have a great time.”
The B.C. Seniors Games runs Aug. 16-20 in Trail, Castlegar and Nelson, with swimming a popular attraction at the Trail Aquatic Centre.