The Trail Stingrays Swim Club welcome two new coaches this season to run their winter and summer programs as the club prepares to defend its regional title.
Long-time swimmer and part time coach, Samme Beatson was named the new head coach of the Stingrays summer team last month while Nicole Armstrong took up the whistle to coach the fall and winter swims.
Beatson is currently studying sciences at University of Calgary and is looking forward to taking over for former coach Ryan Gurney when she returns home in April.
“I am really excited about coaching the Stingrays this summer,” said Beatson from Calgary, Thursday. “The transition to coach feels really natural for me as I have been teaching swimming for a while and have been working on coaching credentials. I will be competing but my focus will definitely be on the team’s training and goals.”
The 18-year-old Beatson won aggregate trophies in nearly every swim meet she competed in last summer, leading the Rays to team victories in an unprecedented five of seven swim meets including the Regional swim meet in Castlegar.
Beatson is looking to maintain the competitive edge generated by outgoing coach Gurney but also promote an enjoyable and healthy social enterprise.
“This year I am hoping to build an inclusive, fun team atmosphere,” said Beatson. “Our club will not only be focusing on healthy bodies, but healthy minds and attitudes as well. A big part of my focus for the club will be on setting and reaching personal goals, in swimming and in life in general.”
Local swim parents aren’t concerned with the coaching change, recognizing Beatson’s leadership qualities, experience and commitment despite her youth.
“She’s young but she has the experience,” said Christine Bartsoff of Fruitvale, whose son Jesse swims with the Rays. “Her credentials are outstanding. Ryan (Gurney) started when he was very young and kind of learned as he went and the club did exceptional.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong has undertaken winter coaching duties until April, when she may take on an assistant role for the summer program.
Armstrong grew up swimming in Regina, Sask., made the Olympic trials and ended up with an athletic scholarship to the University of Wyoming. She and her husband followed her sister’s path to the Kootenays and have called Trail home for the last eight years.
“We absolutely love it,” said Armstrong. “I don’t think there’s a better area for kids, I mean we get four distinct seasons – not quite like Saskatchewan.”
The former junior national team swimmer joined the Rays coaching staff in September.
“I just thought, I have all this swim experience, I’m a stay-at-home mom and I just thought why not get my feet wet again and see where it leads me.
“I’m really enjoying it and we have some really good kids that love to be here and it makes me feel good to be here.”
The fall and winter swimmers must adhere to strict guidelines in order to maintain their summer swim club status and are only permitted to train in the pool up to two hours per week.
A demonstration session will be held Feb. 22 for any new swimmers interested in joining the Stingrays.
Contact the Aquatic Centre for more info.