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Dolphins host first swim camp

By Kiera Hansen
Maddie and Katie at the start: @MKuhnPhoto

By Kiera Hansen

In the last week of July, the Elk Valley Dolphins hosted their first ever summer swim camp, a week long extravaganza with two pool sessions per day along with yoga, dryland exercises, lectures on proper health/nutrition, and motivational speeches by Olympians. Twenty-two athletes, ages ranging between 9 and 18, attended.

The camp had enthusiastic community involvement — Teck donating tents for out-of-pool activities, Soar Studio offering yoga lessons, and Elk Valley Pizza providing pizza for the final lunch.

“We’re so appreciative of the community support,” says volunteer coach Angie Abdou. “The whole week was a real feel good Fernie event.”

The athletes were treated to talks from both Jason Block, an Olympic swimmer, and Emily Brydon, an Olympic ski racer born and raised in Fernie. Block, who competed for Canada as a breaststroker, ran technique sessions in the pool for all athletes. Afterwards, he gave a lunchtime presentation on strategies for overcoming nerves. Block also talked about responding to failure, setting goals, and learning resilience through sports. Fernie’s young athletes had a lot of questions for him and were excited to have him sign their kickboards, flippers, and backpacks at the end of his presentation.

Pictured above: Olympic swimmer Jason Block

Local legend Emily Brydon shared her story of overcoming obstacles to compete in the Olympic Games three times. The Dolphins were especially inspired to meet an athlete who grew up in Fernie and achieved international success. Brydon was a delightful, energetic speaker and has found a whole new crew of fans in Fernie’s local swimmers.

Shandi Barker of Shandi’s Nutritional and Wellness Counselling led several sessions throughout the week. She educated the swimmers on nutrition specific to their sport. Barker also coached the athletes on injury prevention and offered dryland exercises. Barker was a competitive swimmer and coached swim teams for eleven years.

When asked what they would change about summer swim camp, the younger group of swimmers responded only “MORE!” They wanted more hours per day, more days of camp, and more Olympian presenters.

Pictured above: Lenny Polit

“We’re really happy with the camp,” says Abdou. “The kids worked hard and had fun. Everything ran smoothly, especially for our first try and we’re excited to promote the camp more widely next year and bring in swimmers from across BC and Alberta.”

The Dolphins’ new head coach, Frank Comerford, was also able to join the camp near the end of the week. He led a few training sessions, delivered a motivational speech, and introduced the swimmers to water polo. His participation gave the Dolphins an excellent chance to get to know him in advance of the 2021-22 season, which begins September 13.