Canada has a long history of excellence in the pool at the international level and the athletes who go on to represent our country come from all sizes of communities big and small.
From our small pool, the Bulkley Valley Otters Swim Club has been able to produce all levels of swimmers some of whom have been able to represent our country on the international basis and who have gone on to perform at a high level during their university careers.
Currently the team has a member of the national Paralympic team, Jonathan Dieleman, who has eyes on going to his second Paralympic competition next year in Tokyo.
Two university students, not the first to go on from the Otters to the university pools, are currently preparing for another season with their teams. Bailey Esperson has just been named the captain of the top-ranked University of Victoria team after a highly successful university national championship season while his brother Tanner, on a full scholarship to North Dakota, was named an academic all-American for his exploits in the pool and his outstanding schoolwork.
These swimmers may be noteworthy due to their top competitive accomplishments but the Otters have become a far wider program than just producing top level swimmers. In addition, the program has become noteworthy due to it’s flexibility which allows a very wide range of ability and goals.
“BV Otters is a great little swim club for the town of Smithers. We know that there are many sport options for children and teenagers here in the valley and the Otters recognize this. As a result, we’ve made our program as flexible as possible to let people swim for part of the season and then go to another sport with the option of coming back to BV Otters later in the season,” said club president Trevor Bruintjes.
The rather small size of the pool leads to some adaptations in the program. Head coach Tom Best indicates that pool size and availability is not necessarily a disadvantage. “We have to make sure that we use our time so that there aren’t any useless meters as part of the training. We focus on technique excellence and making sure that every meter counts,” he said.
The amount of training many swimmers perform often leads to overuse shoulder injuries and Best is pleased that in his time with the program, there have been no such cases.
Swimming may not be a youngster’s only sport and the fact that there is such a wide variety of sports available in the local area means that it goes well with many other activities. “We have made our program as flexible as possible to let people swim for part of the season and then go to another sport with the option of coming back to the Otters later in the season. Swimming is a total body sport that complements every sport, so this makes it an ideal form of exercise,” said Bruintjes.
Swimmers are often sought after by other sporting teams due to their outstanding fitness levels and their ability to handle superior workloads in sport and in the classroom.
This year’s registration has gone very well and the introductory levels have encouraged many new swimmers to try the program. There are still some open spots in the program but they are filling up quickly. For more information, check the new and improved club website at www. BVotters.ca.