Just Keep Swimming

When my mom first signed me up for competitive swimming when I was five years old, the swim team was called the Hanna Seals. However, it never occurred to me that there would not be actual seals at the pool. I was shocked, then mad, but nonetheless, I kept swimming until I graduated high school. Although there were times it was challenging, I can proudly say that swimming has helped shape me into who I am today.

Keeping kids in sport can sometimes be challenging, but the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club (EVDSC) does their best to make swimming enjoyable for children and adults at different levels.

Angie Abdou, author and assistant coach for the Dolphins says, “Aidan (EVDSC’s head coach) does a great job of making practice fun and creating an energetic, happy, positive environment - so the pool becomes a place kids want to be. Recently, a swimmer told me that school can be rough - people aren’t always so kind - but he loves coming to the pool because everyone is always ‘so nice.’ We work at that. We want swimming to offer community to our athletes - and teach them about being a good community member.”  

Abdou has been coaching for the Dolphins since January of 2021 and has really enjoyed it.

“I love coaching as a way to connect with the young people in our community - so many sweet, hard-working, respectful kids,” Abdou says. “The future of Fernie is bright!”

Abdou says she believes it is important for youth to be involved in sports and/or activities. She adds that sport has helped her in her own life. 

“Everything good about me, and every bit of success I’ve had professionally, I attribute to swimming,” Abdou says. “That sport taught me how to work hard and how to bounce back after failure. Those two skills will get a person through almost anything. Every day, I see a pool full of Dolphins learning those kinds of tools needed for a successful, happy life.” 

According to Abdou, EVDSC’s top swimmers train up to seven times per week, with 90 minute-to-two-hour training sessions each time. Most are also in the gym up to three times a week. Abdou says when it comes to school, swimmers, “absolutely have to be disciplined and manage their time. There’s no choice.”

EVDSC’s head coach, Aiden Chudleigh, adds that not only does swimming help teach youth good time management, but it “helps athletes be more efficient in their studies.”

Not only that, but Chudleigh also notes that, “consistent sport helps young adults excel in all avenues of life such as school and community involvement.”

Chudleigh says that having this kind of dedication to their sport helps to keep kids away from any sort of substance abuse. 

“Having a commitment to a sport and goals helps young adults stay focused and away from negative influences,” Chudleigh says. “It also surrounds the athletes with likeminded people that will keep them away from destructive behaviors.”

Although not every athlete will choose to stay in swimming, Chudleigh says he tries his best to keep kids in the sport by listening to them, continuingly reassessing their goals and by working with each individual on their long-term plans. 

For anyone, no matter their age, thinking about trying out competitive swimming, Chudleigh says.

“Come in, try it out. Like anything it is always hard at first, but you won’t regret it. Swimming creates great self-discipline and also sets you up for a healthy lifestyle. Also, it’s fun!”