OLDS — A former member of the Olds Rapids Swim Club says she has improved since transferring to a swim club in Red Deer.
Her coaches agree, and are impressed with her work ethic.
Cheye-anne Wessels, 13, has been swimming with the Red Deer Catalinas club since last fall.
She swims breaststroke freestyle and backstroke.
“I can say that I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten smoother and faster too. And I think that I’ve learned how to do – I guess other techniques in swimming,” Wessels said during an interview.
She likes the fact that the Red Deer club has more kids in it.
“It’s actually pretty cool, because they put us into little teams and with that, the coaches still get a lot of time with you,” she said. “At first, I thought that you’d have to try to keep up with other people, but it’s really cool, because you can go at your own pace with everyone.”
Wessels was still with the Rapids when the first COVID lockdown hit just over a year ago. It was tough to stay active when not swimming regularly in the pool.
However, when she joined the Catalinas, they kept active by doing exercises and activities via Zoom, including yoga and kick-boxing.
Her mom Cecilia Wessels, who used to be head coach of the Rapids, says Swim Alberta changed the way clubs compete as a result of the pandemic and Cheye-anne has adjusted well.
Instead of swim clubs travelling to other clubs to compete, members of each club swim the fastest times they can in their home club’s pool. Those swims are carefully timed so they can be posted and compared to other swimmers in their category.
“We were thinking it was at least doing something – some training, dryland or water,” Cecilia said.
Cheye-anne's coach Eva Madar is impressed with how well she’s done.
“Cheye-anne is one of those swimmers who has trained hard and made improvements quietly in the last six months while training with me," Madar wrote in an email.
“I remember her first practice. She was very quiet and a bit shy but she did what she was told and the hard work, consistency and determination has paid off. She became a very good teammate and has grown a lot both as a person and an athlete.”
Catalinas head coach Lucien Zucchi noted he doesn’t interact with Wessels as closely as Madar does, but he too likes her work ethic and willingness to learn.
“She already had a great improvement since she joined the team,” he wrote.