Greater Trail Stingrays swimmers are diving back in the pool and preparing for a return to real competition for the summer competitive swim program.
Swim coach Ian Markus is well known in the swimming lanes having started with the Stingrays at the age of seven, and working his way up to the University of Victoria Vikes varsity swim team.
The Montrose native began coaching the team last season, however, COVID restrictions kept the swim team from attending competitions in 2021. Markus was able to adapt and kept swimmers engaged with virtual swim meets.
“We had what we called ‘mini meets’ that the kids started swimming and race themselves and we put the times in a little catalogue with the rest of the Kootenay region. They were virtual meets, but they weren’t official times, we just wanted to see our kids grow and improve,” Markus said.
The team is made up of swimmers from Greater Trail communities, with several Rossland swimmers participating, said Markus.
“Our team is mostly based on improving on swimming but it also has that competitive aspect,” he added.
Joining Markus as an assistant coach is Claire Cartwright, a competitive swimmer with the Castlegar Aquanauts, and first year bio-chemistry student at the University of Victoria.
“This is my first year coaching summer swim and also my first year as a Stingray, and I could not be more excited,” said Cartwright. “I am most excited for swim meets this summer. I have missed competing so much these past few years, and I am so excited for our team to get back in the water.”
The Stingrays started training on May 2 with three sessions per week, and will ramp that up to five sessions beginning June 1. This summer, swimmers will be able to enjoy a full schedule of swim meets starting May 28-29 in Nelson.
“We’re going to Nelson to do a full meet there with six events and two relays, so we have a pretty big meet coming up,” said Markus. “They are all getting pretty excited for the swim meets. Some of them are new to swimming, so they are definitely worried having never raced before.”
The club has signed up about 15 junior swimmers and 18 senior swimmers, good numbers considering the adverse effects of COVID.
“That is a lot of kids for after COVID,” said Markus. “No one was really swimming too much, so there’s quite a good turnout for the Stingrays, which I am very happy about and proud about coaching this year.”
Markus invited UBC swimmer and Penticton Pike’s head coach Jaren LeFranc to run a breaststroke and skills camp on May 14. The camp was optional but well attended and a benefit for local swimmers prepping for the upcoming meet in Nelson.
“We definitely have some strong swimmers, and are definitely going to have some good competition,” added Markus.
“The main focus this year is on improvement, but I can tell you there is going to be a lot of good competition between the kids on the swim team and with the other kids in the Kootenays.”
Following the Nelson meet, there is the Grand Forks Pirhanas ‘B’ Meet on June 5, and the Trail Stingrays Swim Meet on June 18-19. The Stingray will also attend meets in Creston, Colville, Castlegar and Kimberley in preparation for the Kootenay Regional Swim Meet at the Trail Aquatic Centre on Aug. 6-7.
Stingrays swimmers who qualify at regionals will compete at the BCSSA provincial meet in Kamloops, Aug. 19-21.