INNISFAIL – The town’s feisty water wonderkids are back competing and excelling in the pool.
The Innisfail Dolphins recently travelled to Okotoks and came home from their first meet in almost two years with many records and best times and medals.
Led by 17-year-old Jacob Mydland, the club’s oldest member who set two club records on July 17 in Okotoks, the Dolphins picked up where they left off in 2019 and put an exclamation mark on why they are known as being one of the top five best performing swim clubs in Alberta.
Josh Gette, the club’s head coach, said the stellar performance was a result of many swimmers never giving up from the tough restrictions put on competing that was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even last year with zero meets we had kids who were 13 and 17 who had a lot of other things they could be doing and they were still showing up for practice five days a week and working hard,” said Gette.
“It is really awesome to see their dedication because there wasn’t a lot motivating them before, and now they are all very excited because this is their time to show off what they worked so hard on for this past year.”
The one-day meet, hosted by the Okotoks Stingrays swim club, attracted 21 Innisfail swimmers from the ages eight to 17. That was just half of the club’s current membership of about 50, down dramatically from about 100.
Gette said during COVID the club was unable to get new swimmers.
However, he said the remaining young athletes were focused toward another opportunity to experience the thrill of competing and to improve record and best times.
“It was really great for them to have a chance to compete because lots of their times are also club record times. With them unable to swim for two years lots of the club records are based every two years, the 11, 12 and 14s, and they only have so long to get these club records they want to swim for,” said Gette.
“We had known they could get them because we had some practices last summer. We know lots of them were swimming very fast, and we could get very fast times. It was just finding a meet for them to actually swim a match so they could have them and not have all their hard work go away.”
And it certainly worked for veteran Jacob Mydland, who claimed firsts in the 100-individual medley, 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 freestyle, and 50 breaststroke.
“That was great to see. You just want them to be successful when they have the opportunity,” said Gette. “That why lots of them do it. They want to excel. They all love racing. The best part of swimming is the races.”
The club’s top three finishes from the July 17 Okotoks meet include:
• Mackenzie Hickman - 1st in 100-individual medley, 50-backstroke, 50-freestyle, 50-butterfly and 100-backstroke.
• Mason Hickman - 1st in 100-freestyle, 200-freestyle, 200-individual medley, 100-individual medley, and 50- freestyle.
• Samantha Caron- 2nd in 100-backstroke.
• Josie Dunbar- 1st in 100-individual medley, 50-backstroke, 25-butterfly, 25-backstroke and 3rd in 50-freestyle.
• Paige Dunbar- 1st in 50-backstroke, 50-breaststroke and 2nd in 100-backstroke.
• Robert Hallman- 3rd in 50-backstroke and 100-backstroke.
• Samuel Hallman- 1st in 100-backstroke.
• Rhys Kirkness- 3rd in 100-individual medley, 50-butterfly, 50-freestyle and 2nd in 50-breaststroke.
• Ryann Kirkness- 1st in 50-breaststroke, 2nd in 50-freestyle, 100-freestyle and 50-butterfly, 3rd in 100-individual medley.
• Ryan Lien- 1st in 50-backstroke, 25-backstroke, 25-flutterboard and 2nd in 25-freestyle and 3rd in 50-freestyle.
• Ella Williams- 1st in 200-freestyle, 50-butterfly, 100-freestyle, and 200-individual medley and 2nd in 50-freestyle
Gette said the Innisfail Dolphins will have an individual club meet on July 29 and another at the end of August. The club will also go to a meet in Hanna on Aug. 7.
The Dolphins will then host their big end-of-the-year meet on Aug. 20, an event that will attract other clubs from around Alberta.