Olivia Howse ready to swim at first championship meet in Canada since Covid closures in March 2020. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Olivia Howse ready to swim at first championship meet in Canada since Covid closures in March 2020. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Fernie’s Olivia Howse headed to Alberta Provincial Championships

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club

This weekend Olivia Howse travels to Edmonton to represent Fernie in the Alberta Provincial Championships. She will compete in seven events: 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 50 back, 100 back, 200 back, and 50 fly.

Like many athletes, over the last two years, Howse found both her training regime and her competition schedule interrupted by Covid. In March 2020, Howse landed in Winnipeg with her teammates for the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Championships right when the world shutdown. The team immediately returned to Fernie without having set foot on the pool deck.

The Fernie Aquatic Centre also temporarily closed. Initially, Howse kept fit by working out with her teammate Brock Tomlinson in his stationary pool. With no sign of swim meets or normal training resuming in Canada, Howse made the big decision to travel to Australia where she could live with relatives and train with an elite team. There, Howse had the wonderful experience of competing in a national championship at a beautiful outdoor facility in a country where swimming is truly a high-profile sport.

This fall, when lock-down hit Australia, Howse returned home to rejoin the Elk Valley Dolphins, and Swim Canada slowly began to return to normal. The 2022 Alberta Provincial Championship will be the first big Canadian meet for Howse since that cancelled championships in Winnipeg, March 2020.

“I’m a little nervous,” admitted Howse. “I’m not sure where I’m at compared to the competition. But I’m most excited about my 200 events.”

Howse’s coaches feel confident that all her hard work and perseverance will pay off. “I’m excited to see Olivia race this weekend. This championship is an important step back to normalcy in the sport,” said Aidan Chudleigh. “For us, it’ll be a first step of big things to come.”

Though Howse will be the only Fernie swimmer to compete at this meet, she will not be alone. Her teammates back in Fernie will be enthusiastically following her results. Over the spring break, fellow Dolphins who were officially on holidays jumped into workouts to keep her company. Plus, a crew of Dolphins alumni will be showing up to celebrate Howse at the Edmonton meet.

“We’re having a reunion with all the former Dolphins who now live in Edmonton,” says Coach Chudleigh with a big smile. “Tomaz Cigler, Holly Soetaert, and Luka Cigler – we’ll have a team dinner!”

Howse can step on the blocks confident that she has the support of all the Elk Valley Dolphins, current and former.

READ MORE: Three generations of Fernie family complete open water challenge in Mexico



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