Catalina Swim Club training hard for big events

As the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club gets more successful, the more practice time and space is needed. And that’s become a problem, according to head coach Mandy Smith.

As the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club gets more successful, the more practice time and space is needed.

And that’s become a problem, according to head coach Mandy Smith.

“In the past it wasn’t that much of a problem as we had 12 to 15 kids training at this time of the year, but this year we have 40,” she explained.

The problem that exists with high-level athletes is that they have to train in the recreation centre’s outdoor pool along with casual swimmers. The club gets only three lanes to work in, while the public, who Smith indicates numbers around 12, gets three lanes.

“We have a lot of athletes who are very serious about the sport and they’re packed into three lanes and there are injuries,” she said. “We’ve asked for more space and did get one more lane, but the city says they are getting complaints from the general public about us already.”

The biggest problem is Thursday mornings when the club trains from 6:15-8 a.m. The swimmers also train at Mitchener Centre several times during the week and they get the outdoor pool to themselves Saturday from 9-11 a.m. They need to train in the 50-metre outdoor pool as much as possible with the long-course season well underway.

“The public can’t use the pool until 11 a.m. on Saturday so it’s perfect for us as we have the room we need,” continued Smith, who isn’t about to make problems but just wants the general public to understand the needs of the club, which is one of the best in the province for its size. In fact, the club was the top medium club (100 students and under) at last year’s long course and short course provincials.

They’re now training for this year’s provincials in early July. As well, they have two athletes — Rebecca Smith, 12, and Alana Skocdopole, 18 — who are on the Canadian junior national team.

The two will compete for Canada against the United States and Mexico at the North American Challenge Aug. 2-5 in Edmonton.

“We also have 18 going to the summer nationals and 20 to the Summer Games,” explained Smith, who has 44 swimmers going to the provincials.

The Catalina Club also shares time with the Red Deer Marlins Swim Club, the synchronized swim club and the Silver Sharks (Masters) Club. The Silver Sharks train at Mitchener with the other two at the rec centre.

The calibre of athlete with the Catalina Club is impressive considering they’re always a step or two behind other clubs in the province.

“The long course season begins in March and other clubs get an opportunity to work in 50m pools well before we can get outside to begin with, so that’s a disadvantage, but our kids work hard and take their training seriously,” said Smith.

Sooner or later the city will get an Olympic sized pool, but until then it will be tight to find time and space for the training the top athletes need.

“It will be nice to get a pool we can use for competition, if it’s just strictly recreation it won’t help that much,” said Smith.

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