The Red Deer Catalina Swim Club’s 70th annual Freeze or Fry went swimmingly over the weekend.
Approximately 357 competitors from across the province took part in the meet on Saturday and Sunday marking a new club record for the long-time event.
Unlike in years past, the weather was in their favor at the outdoor pool at the Red Deer Recreation Centre. Last year’s event had plenty of rain but this time around sunshine ruled the sky with over 25-degree temperatures and even a heat warning.
Past president Jennifer Bahler said they couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
“The heat is nice and we’ve had a great turnout. The camper’s village is packed and everybody we’ve talked to just loves this event,” she said.
“The biggest event before this that we’re aware of was 330 and that was the year we hosted zones.”
The Freeze or Fry is Alberta’s only outdoor swim meet of the season creating a unique experience for those involved. They had teams from as far away as Fort McMurray and for some of the kids, it was their first time competing in the 50-metre outdoor pool.
“Today we’re getting lots of positive feedback but when it’s raining and snowing it’s not quite as positive,” she laughed.
“It’s a brand new experience for a lot of kids and parents get to bring their lawn chairs. It’s kind of like a beach day but at the pool. Clubs really seem to love this meet.”
Last year was the Freeze or Fry’s return in over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. They experience lower attendance but came back this year with their biggest event yet. It’s been a quick turnaround but a welcomed one for the club.
“It’s awesome and great to see. We have 16 teams here so it’s nice to see such a big variety too. It’s not just the same central Alberta teams all the time,” Bahler said.
“Everybody is starting to hear about us again and we’re excited about it.”
With the event’s success this year the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club hopes to build on it in the future. They were nearly at capacity for the number of competitions each swimmer was allowed to compete in. With already 12 straight hours of competition slated for Saturday they had to limit the swimmers.
Could they expand it to a three-day meet? Bahler certainly thinks that could broaden the number of events but for now, they’re happy with how it’s gone.