Leah Soetaert, Holly Soetaert, and Tatum Kipnik of the Elk Valley Dolphin Swim Club. (Contributed by EVDSC)

Exciting Month for Elk Valley Dolphins

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins

After a challenging year of adapting to Covid-19 restrictions, the Elk Valley Dolphins have been able to reap the rewards of their hard work. Since the swimmers got back in the pool in October, they have been training hard with little opportunity for competition and no opportunity for travel or the fun social times that come along with swim meets.

Showing true grit and determination, the nearly fifty swimmers have continued to show up and push themselves in the water.

Finally, the Dolphins had a chance to break away from regular training and test themselves to see the results of their effort.

First, all the club’s swimmers participated in Swim Canada’s Swim-a-thon. The young athletes had one hour to complete as many lengths as possible.

Two senior swimmers led the way with Brock Tomlinson completing 4050 meters (162 lengths) and Holly Soetaert right behind him with 4000 meters (160 lengths). Forty-five Elk Valley Dolphins completed the challenge for a total of over 117 kilometers of swimming.

The Swim-a-thon was also a successful fundraiser with the club bringing in $8460, over twice its goal.

Josie Howse earned the top fundraiser spot, with Kiera Hansen right behind her, each swimmer collecting more than one-thousand dollars. T

he club is grateful to community and family who contributed. The money will help the club keep swimmers in the water in a year with unprecedented obstacles.

After swim-a-thon, Fernie’s swimmers went straight into virtual race week. The timed events served as Divisional Championships for those who qualified and fun chance to compete for those who had not.

Every practice during the first week of March functioned as a mini-meet. Forty-seven swimmers competed in 268 individual races and ten relays.

Coach Tara Beck views the week as a great success: “Our youngest dolphins learned about racing etiquette and competition procedure. Seven of our older dolphins were racing in Swim BC’s Virtual Divisional Championships (unofficial, and not sanctioned). These seven swimmers qualified in 29 events in total.”

She also expresses gratitude to the volunteers who put in over forty hours to help with timing and execution.

The youngest swimmer to qualify for Divisional Championships was 12-year-old Jarren Beck who earned a spot in the 50 back.

His sister, thirteen-year-old Carly Beck, qualified in an impressive four events (50 breast, 50 free, 100 free, and 200 free).

Another impressive sibling powerhouse, the Soetaert sisters, qualified for Divisional Championships in a combined total of ten events, with Leah Soetaert nabbing a spot in the 50 back, 50 fly, 100 fly, 200 breast, and 200 IM, while her older sister Holly Soetaert excelled in the 50 back, 50 fly, 100 back, 100 fly, and 100 free.

Tatum Kipnik had a great week landing a scholarship at Northern State University and deciding to head to United States in the fall to compete for the varsity team in the freestyle and breaststroke events while completing her post-secondary education.

She didn’t let the exciting news interfere with her race week performance, executing Divisional qualifying swims in the 50 breast, 50 free, 100 back, 100 breast, and 200 breast.

The club’s most senior swimmer, eighteen-year-old Brock Tomlinson who will head to University of Calgary in the fall, also put in qualifying performance in his 50 fly, 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free, and 200 free.

Kiera Hansen executed strong and impressive performances all week, making the Divisional Championship standard in the 50 fly.

During the week, the Dolphins swam an astonishing eighty-percent best times. “Everyone had some amazing swims,” says Coach Tara Beck.

The swimmers have worked hard and should be proud of their performances, especially during this particularly unusual year.

The Dolphins’ winter season winds up the third week of April.

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