Seals overcome challenges to get back into pool

The Dawson Creek Seals Swim Club has done all it can to comply and adapt to COVID-19 regulations this season, and even then there has been lots of ups and downs.  Originally jumping back into the pool last September, the Seals got back into the swim of things last week for the first time since early-December. 

When the first round of new PHO restrictions came down in early December, and since it was near the end of a planned eight-week session anyway, the Seals decided to take a break to go over the restrictions and make sure everything was in place for when the next session started. 

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Adult sports have been prohibited since December, a ruling that hasn’t affected the Seals that much. However, a regulation requiring the distance between swimmers to go from two meters to three has brought its challenges, but none that the Seals haven’t been up to the task for.

“It took a bit to figure out the best way to deal with these restrictions, to be honest. We had to be creative, and we’ve flipped how we do our program,” said Seals president Trevor O’Dwyer. 

The result is a choreographed system in which swimmers start in even lanes, leaving the required distance between them and the next swimmer, with the next swimmers lining up, but spaced out, in the even lanes. 

While this has worked out well for the club, it doesn’t give swimmers a lot of time to actually be in the water swimming. So, the club had to change what it focuses on in practice, and for this six-week session it’s focusing primarily on the start. O’Dwyer said this follows the example set by other sports that have shifted from doing things traditionally, to doing things in smaller bits (going from 11 on 11 in soccer to four on four futsal for practice, and from six on six in volleyball to two on two).

“The kids love the starts, it incorporates dives, which are the most fun, with a lot of technical aspects,” said O’Dwyer. 

Plus, swimmers wouldn’t normally get to spend this much time on the start. Though focusing on the start is not a perfect replacement for focusing on conditioning, it gives kids something tangible to work on, and a chance to monitor their improvement. 

The Seals plan to practice 5,000 starts altogether over the next six weeks, and kids will compare their start times at the start of the session to their times at the end. 

“The pandemic has really influenced our sense of community, it’s a huge part of our club and the club’s success. It’s hard on parents and grandparents who can’t see their kids and swim, but it’s no different from churches and any other sports clubs that rely on the community,” said O’Dwyer. 

“We’re happy to be back in the water, and the teamwork that’s gone on between the city and us has been phenomenal. They couldn’t wait to see us back in the water.”

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