For Michial Seginowich, swimming was a life altering experience and that is exactly what he wants to do as Facility Manager at the Bulkley Valley Recreation Centre.
Seginowich, 38, came to Smithers from Nanaimo in January, where he worked as a lifeguard and instructor.
“It was a good opportunity,” Seginowich said of the decision to move to Smithers.
“I enjoy being in a small town, everybody is so friendly.”
To say water is a passion for Seginowich would be an understatement.
As a child, Seginowich developed Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the muscle tissue that also attacked the bone of his left fibula.
He has been cancer free since the age of six, but the cancer had left its mark on his left leg and foot.
It took several operations, usually during the summer to repair his leg and foot.
“I was never able to join a baseball team because the surgeries were usually in the summer,” Seginowich explained.
But one sport he had not considered was swimming, but his grandfather Robert Garrioch, thought it might just be the perfect sport for Seginowich who was 11 at the time.
“I joined the swim club in Victoria and just loved it,” Seginowich explained.
“It helped me, it was something I could excel at despite my leg.
“That’s what got me going in aquatics.”
By the time he was 14, Seginowich had earned his bronze medal and bronze cross and by 17 he had his National Lifeguard Service Award and took his first job as a lifeguard at the age of 18.
Along the way Seginowich also excelled on the swim team and remembers fondly his first provincial championship at the age of 13.
Arriving at the competition, Seginowich remembers feeling overwhelmed by the number of swimmers in attendance, all of them good swimmers.
But it was what the coach did for the relay team that moved him the most.
The coach took the relay team to have their heads shaved on either side, where the swimmers then inscribed the name of the swim club, Coho, on one side and their event on the other.
“Then he took us out for pizza,” Seginowich started.
“It was the first time I felt part of a team.
“It felt great.”
Now as facility manager, Seginowich, who has a degree in recreation and sport management from the former Malaspina University College, faces different challenges, not the least of which is developing the facility budget and staying within the budget, which thus far he said is going well.
In addition to overseeing the budget and the staff at the rec centre, Seginowich is also involved in marketing, maintaining the facility website, training and teaching, with the latter being his favourite.
Some of the courses Seginowich teaches include the National Lifeguard certification course, first aid, CPR, Automated External Defibrillator and Water Safety Instructor Training.
“My passion is lifeguarding and first aid,” he said.
Although he arrived in January, Seginowich said he is still settling in and has spent most of his free time taking walks with his dog.
That will soon change. Next month he moves into his own place and his girlfriend Errolyne will also make the transition to Smithers.
“I’m looking forward to April,” he said.
“I’m also looking forward to seeing a green Smithers, exploring the trails on my mountain bike.”
Looking ahead, Seginowich has developed a wish list and at the top of the list is another addition to the rec centre to expand the fitness area as well as to include teaching rooms.
Short term, he would like to add more programming, especially programming specifically for people with disabilities.
“I would eventually like to see it evolve into Special Olympics,” he said.
“This is kind of what happened to me.”
Until then, Seginowich says he goes to work every day with a smile on his face knowing he is providing opportunities for other people to enjoy swimming and providing good instruction.
“It’s a good feeling to see people leaving the rec centre with smiles on their faces,” he said.