When you talk swimming in Red Deer more often than not it’s about the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club.
And while the Catalina club is a premier year-round club, producing a number of outstanding national calibre athletes, the Red Deer Marlins Swim Club has received it’s share of accolades as well.
The Marlins, which were created in 1977, have won a number of provincial Alberta Summer Swim Association (ASSA) titles over the years, and even this year, in what is called a rebuilding season, the club is ranked fifth among larger programs in the province.
“It is a rebuilding year as we started the season with 21 kids who couldn’t swim more than five metres,” said club president Amanda Halford, who has 96 swimmers overall.
“We have a good group of younger kids, starting at age four, who are just learning and learning to be competitive. By the time they’re nine or 10 competition is second nature to them.
“We’re very proud of the club and what it’s accomplished over the years. We’ve won a number of provincial titles, although this year it will be tougher as we lost 10 kids to the Catalina club.”
But watching their kids move to the Catalina club is fine by Halford.
“They find they’re interested in taking their swimming to a higher level and competing nationally, if possible,” said Halford, who started swimming with the Marlins in 1981 and has been with the program ever since. She competed for 11 years, coached for six and is now in her first year as president.
This year’s edition of the Marlins isn’t the biggest, but the 96 competitors is about right for the coaching staff.
“We’ve been as big as 115, but around 100 is about right for the pool time we have,” explained Halford.
The Marlins mainly practice at the Michener Centre pool, although once the Catalina Club and the Master Sharks Club take a summer break they have plenty of time to train at the Recreation Centre.
“We start our season in May and until July and August we struggle to find pool time. A lot of times we go early in the morning or later at night. So July and August is great.”
The Marlins run until the second week of August and includes kids from age four to 17.
“The majority of the kids we have are looking for something to do in the summer and a way to stay in shape. We get a lot of kids who are involved in triathlon, play AA or AAA hockey and a lot of volleyball players,” said Halford.
Sarah Broen is the club’s head coach with former swimmer, AJ Mahoney the technical coach and Hunting Hills High School teacher, Jon Davies, the mentor coach.
“We also have six other regular coaches and two junior coaches, aged 15-16,” said Halford. “It’s a good group and we have enough coaches to handle all the groups.”
Halford explained they like having four or five swimmers in the younger kids pre-competition groups.
“There’s a lot of technical work and the more individual work the better,” she said.
While the club concentrates more on competing at the provincial level than the national level, the ASSA has put together an all-star team of eight swimmers, who have A qualifying times, to compete against the year-round athletes this weekend. Four of the eight — Tyler Driesen, Owen Halford, Cale Kooyman and Erik Sveinson — are from the Marlins.
Kooyman is ranked No. 1 in the ASSA in the 15-17 year-old 50 and 100-metre breaststroke and 100m Individual Medley. Driesen is ranked No. 1 in the 15-17 100m butterfly. The ASSA has 3,297 swimmers from 58 clubs, competing on the 25m short course.
The Marlins are also ranked No. 1 in four relays.
Two members of the Marlins — 13-year-old Madison Kohut and 11 year-old Chloe Becher — will also compete in the Alberta Summer Games.