After 20 months of no travel, the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club competed in its first out-of-town meet: the Killarney Swim Club Invitational, held at Calgary’s Repsol Sport Centre from November 19-21.
With nearly 500 athletes and 18 teams, this invitational was the biggest meet in Western Canada since the lessening of Covid restrictions.
All swimmers, officials and spectators had to show proof of double vaccination before entering the building.
Masks were required, with officials strictly monitoring adherence to the rules.
On the final day of competition, the hometown club made the call to cut relays because of the impossibility of maintaining social distance with extra swimmers behind the blocks.
With these strict protocols, and good cooperation from all athletes, the Dolphins felt comfortable and confident competing in the out-of-town swim meet.
During the three days, eight Fernie athletes swam a total of 44 events, putting in nearly 100 percent best times.
Despite the intense and overwhelming atmosphere, even the most inexperienced swimmers, like eleven-year-old Ewan Dunfield competing in his first out-of-town meet, overcame their jitters to put in strong performances.
Top competitor Olivia Howse led the way, qualifying for finals or semi-finals in all but one of her seven events.
Despite struggling with a shoulder injury, she placed 7th in the 400 free and 6th in the 200 free. She also won the semi-final in her 50 back.
Making remarkable improvements, Adam Hayden is the one other Fernie swimmer to boast a spot in the finals.
Hayden upgraded to competitive swimming status just this season. Impressively, the rookie competitor held strong under the pressure of the elite meet.
He took 16 seconds off his best100-breaststroke time to qualify for the finals. In the evening swim, he dropped another 2 seconds, finishing in seventh place.
The Fernie swimmers enjoyed themselves so much that they will be heading back to Calgary’s Repsol Sport Centre on December 17-20 to participate in the Cascade Swim Club’s Age Group Challenge.