The Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club runs masters’ swim sessions Tuesday to Friday mornings, 6:30 to 8:00am. Under the guidance of Coach Aidan Chudleigh, adult swimmers get to learn competitive swimming technique and try training sets like the youth club. Adults of any age are welcome to try out, and the group is growing.
“We have a good turnout every morning session,” said Coach Chudleigh. “It’s great to see swimmers who have been coming for a few years showing significant improvements and fun to have new adults give us a try.”
This year, several the adult swimmers who train with the Dolphins’ masters have been entering themselves in competitions to see the gains of their hard work in the pool. In the summer, Jennifer De Werk entered a 5K swimming race in Invermere.
De Werk placed third overall. She says she enjoyed the loop course where she could check her position every kilometer. “Whether I had entered the 1K, the 3K, or the 5K, I still would have placed 3rd overall.” De Werk was pleased with her consistent pacing, evidence of good fitness.
Bob Maudie, perhaps the most competitive athlete of the masters’ group, did Penticton Ironman this summer and placed 6th in his age group, one spot shy of qualifying for Ironman Worlds. Like De Werk, Maudie was pleased with his consistent pacing. “I pretty much held that same spot through all the events – the swim, the bike, and the run.” After ten hours and eight minutes of physically grueling exertion, Maudie said he still ran strong through the last section.
“Any other day, you would say I’m hurt. I can’t run any more. You just want to stop and have a sleep on the pavement. But on Ironman-day you keep going.” Despite his pain and fatigue, Maudie not only finished the running marathon leg of the Ironman at a strong pace, but he immediately signed up to do it again next year, with the goal of qualifying for Worlds.
Maudie carried his intense competition streak into the fall, placing 3rd in the Cranbrook Gravel Grind the day before the Fernie Half Marathon. Maudie woke up after the bike race thinking “I can’t believe I’m signed up for a running race.” Then he got out of bed and won the running race, clocking a half marathon time of 1:28:39 to come first out of the 171 men competing.
Angie Abdou, the masters’ swimmer currently most keen for actual pool swimming competitions, traveled to North Vancouver this weekend to race in a masters’ swim meet. She competed in 50 back, 100 back, and 200 back, winning all three races. “I’m usually a mid to long distance freestyler,” said Abdou, “but I felt like doing something different. I brought my daughter with me and did her best races, got her to give me coaching tips for a change.”
After a masters’ meet last May, Abdou set herself a goal to make as many 2022 top-3 national rankings in her age group as possible. In May, she earned top-3 rankings in 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 IM, 200 IM, and 200 fly. This weekend, at her second meet of the year, she added a national 2nd place ranking in 200 back. She hopes to collect a few more before the year is over.
“I know it’s important to be active as you get older,” said Abdou, “and having these goals, entering in these competitions, just makes staying active more fun and exciting. Aidan Chudleigh helps so much because he takes all the team’s athletes seriously, from the most beginner to the most elite, from the youngest to the oldest.”
“We do cater to all ages and skill sets,” said Coach Chudleigh. “Our club ranges from 5 to 70 in age and focuses not only on competitive swimming but also general fitness, triathlons, and cross training. The best thing about the Dolphins is the whole family can be involved with learn to swim for the youngest, competitive options for the teenagers, and a masters’ programs for the parents.”
The Dolphins plan to host a masters’ meet at the Fernie Aquatic Centre on the first weekend in December, which will be the first adult swimming competition at the pool in over fifteen years.