Leah Soetaert, Luka Cigler, Holly Soetaert, Tatum Kipnik and Olivia Howse proudly hoist the Canadian flag at the Montana State Swim Championships in Missoula. Photo Submitted

Leah Soetaert, Luka Cigler, Holly Soetaert, Tatum Kipnik and Olivia Howse proudly hoist the Canadian flag at the Montana State Swim Championships in Missoula. Photo Submitted

Swim club celebrates season of personal growth

The Elk Valley Dolphins will be hosting a large swim meet in Fernie in April

The Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club is in the middle of a very successful season full of personal and professional growth.

Coach Aidan Chudleigh recently received a coaching scholarship from SwimBC that took him to Carmel, Indiana, to visit two high school swim teams. One of the schools boasts the best swim team in the USA. Chudleigh spent a week at the beginning of February learning from the different coaches and has already started implementing some of what he learned.

“I went there to learn about how to create a positive culture within the team and how to get high school kids to really engage with the sport,” said Chudleigh. “I learned a ton and the main thing was just how to be really positive and create a positive culture on the team and to just help them get better.”

Chudleigh added that the visit really changed his mentality towards coaching and empowered him to create a positive experience for the swimmers in his program. The positive reinforcement technique is clearly working, as several swimmers from the club have had very impressive results at various swim meets lately.

The Dolphins recently attended the Montana State Swimming Championships in Missoula. Ten swimmers competed in the championship and six of them placed in the top eight, earning podium finishes. Four of the swimmers finished in the top three in their respective categories.

“It was a really big achievement because the competition there was really good,” said Chudleigh.

Up next for the swim club is the Manitoba and Saskatchewan provincial championships. Chudleigh explained that the B.C. provincial championships take place in Victoria and since the costs associated with getting swimmers all the way to the island is quite high, they often attend other provincial and state meets.

“It’s to get that high level of competition but still making the sport affordable for families because not everyone has the money to travel to Victoria,” he explained.

Seven swimmers will compete in the Manitoba and Saskatchewan provincials from March 13-15 against the best young swimmers the provinces have to offer. Chudleigh called the swim meet “the pinnacle of our winter season.”

Although these accomplishments for the swim team are already numerous, Chudleigh also mentioned that two swimmers have already qualified for the swim nationals later this year.

For residents who want to cheer their local swimmers on, but are unable to travel to watch, there’s good news. The Dolphins will be hosting an annual swim meet on April 24-26, that will see around 300 swimmers from the surrounding area come to Fernie to compete. Approximately 70 swimmers with the Elk Valley club will compete in the U18 meet.

“We hold that meet every year and it’s a good way to showcase our local talent,” Chudleigh noted.

All in all, the club has been doing superbly well this year. The evidence of this can be found both in the results of the various swim meets the team takes part in and also the number of registered swimmers with the club. Only four years ago, the team had 38 swimmers, none of whom qualified for a provincial meet. Now, the club boasts 105 swimmers, about 30 of whom are over the age of 18 and compete in the masters program.

“The club has been going really well this year,” Chudleigh reflected. “We’re at full capacity basically and have been for the past two years so that’s been a good achievement.”


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