The Elk Valley Dolphin team at Cranbrook Aquatic Centre after their meet relocation due to vandalism. (Photo by Christy Lynn Nguyen)

The Elk Valley Dolphin team at Cranbrook Aquatic Centre after their meet relocation due to vandalism. (Photo by Christy Lynn Nguyen)

Dolphins overcome vandalism to host Evolution Halloween Howler

A swim meet at the Fernie Aquatic Centre relocated to Cranbrook over the weekend due to vandalism

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club

The Elk Valley Dolphins were set to host the second annual Evolution Halloween Howler on the weekend of October 29th. A record-breaking ninety Dolphins were registered to compete. The Dolphins would be the biggest team at a meet for the first time ever. Clubs traveled from Alberta, East Kootenay, West Kootenay, and Montana to attend the competition.

Vandalism put an abrupt stop to the meet. On Friday night, someone broke windows at the Fernie Aquatic Centre, sending glass into the pool.

It looked like there would be no meet at all, but the Dolphins quickly found a fix. Team Manager Aysha Haines suggested the meet move to Cranbrook. The speed with which the transition would have to happen and the amount of cooperation the move would take made the relocation seem impossible. But by 1 p.m. on Saturday, the Cranbrook pool was set up for a meet and swimmers were jumping into the pool.

“In times of adversity, people step forward and build community,” Haines said. “Our weekend proved that. An unfortunate instance of vandalism could have ruined the weekend for 200 swimmers and their families. Rather than wallow, our community rallied and with support from two municipalities, over 100 swim families and volunteers, and our dedicated referee Trevor Nicholson, we were able to pivot our event to the Cranbrook Aquatic Centre.”

The biggest out-of-town team did decide to go home rather than wait to see if the meet could be saved. In the end, the relocation involved six clubs, 117 athletes, over 45 volunteers, staff across two pool facilities, as well as city workers from Fernie and Cranbrook.

The effort proved worthwhile. 88 Dolphins participated in 456 events and achieved 100s of personal best times. 25 pups showed up for their first meet. Many parents officiated for the first time. What could have been a very disappointing experience of a first swim meet became a lesson on resilience, flexibility, and determination.

Coach Aidan Chudleigh was happy with the team’s performance and the way everyone came together as a team to make the weekend a success.

The team will travel to Calgary for its next meet on the weekend of November 18th and hopes the pool will be repaired and available for training soon. In the meantime, the senior squad is doing a mix of dryland and Sparwood pool practices.

READ MORE: ‘Extensive’ vandalism at Fernie Aquatic Centre forces swim meet to relocate to Cranbrook

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