Two young swimmers earned Hope the top overall marks at the Aug. 13 to 19 BC Summer Swimming provincials, beating out 52 other B.C. teams.
Swimmers Eli Reist, 8, and Violette Freimark, 10, earned Hope’s RiverMonsters Swim Club a whopping 31 points, placing the team six points ahead of the Kimberley Sea Horse Swim Club with 24.86 points. For a team with the fewest participating athletes to be ranked at the very top is quite an achievement for the individual swimmers and the club, said club president Catherine Freimark.
“Both of our swimmers came in in the top 15, they were in finals for every single race that they did. They were fantastic,” she said.
The athletes have each made a meteoric rise in their own swimming careers and with the help of head coach Mike Freimark they are setting new goals heading into the winter season.
Violette began swimming two years ago, since then she has improved each year.
“It’s been a steady improvement for Violette. The first year she didn’t qualify and last year she did qualify for one,” said Mike, who is also Violette’s father, referring to her one swim at provincials in 2017 where she placed eighteenth. “This year, she’s basically really improved in all of her four strokes to place in the top three. She finished sixth overall in points for division two girls, so she did fantastic.”
“She’s got a really strong drive to compete and she tries to perfect all of her skills,” said Catherine of the push behind Violette’s success. In addition to being the club president, Catherine is also Violette’s mother and when she asked her daughter earlier this year where she wanted to take her swimming, Violette replied she wants to go ‘all the way’ with the sport.
Violette placed third in three events: division two 50-metre fly (36.12), division two 100-metre freestyle (1:13.23) and the regional medley relay (2:40.69). She also placed fourth in the division two 50-metre free swim and twelfth in division two 50-metre breaststroke.
Reist went into his first summer swimming season with just five months spent in the WinterFit competitive training program.
“This is Eli’s first provincials, which surprised me in qualifying, let alone doing as good as he did for his very first provincial showcase,” said Mike.
Reist placed fourth in the regional medley relay (3:14:51), seventh in division one 50-metre backstroke (47.43) and fifteenth in division one 50-metre freestyle (42.77). His grandfather and uncle surprised him by flying in from Ontario to watch the young swimmer compete.
Moving into the winter season, Mike said he will work with each of the swimmers to set their own goals for performance, as well as keeping it fun so the young athletes are not deterred from staying with the sport.
Violette moves up to division three, making her time standards increasingly more difficult. “She really wants to focus on her back, especially throughout the winter,” Mike said.
With Reist, Mike has yet to sit down with him to work on his new goals after his first experience at provincials.
“Through the experience it will be a little bit easier for him, next round, to really narrow into his smart goal set,” he said.
“At this age, it’s mostly about fun. I want them to keep enjoying it because it is stressful. As much as they’re having fun and they’re enjoying it, it can get a little stressful on kids…especially when they start off really strong.”
The success at provincials is one confirmation that the club has turned their luck around. Just last year, Catherine said there was talk of closing down the club which is now three years old.
“This time last year there was talk about the club folding because there were concerns of how we were going to be and to afford everything and getting volunteers and people to help out on the executive,” she said. Competitions are fully volunteer-led and parents pull 15 hour days at the events: add to that the time they spend updating meet results.
“This season has just been amazing. Our parents are right in there, everybody’s volunteering. We have five parents getting their officiating shirts and their pins,” Catherine said.
As well as a strong volunteer muscle, the increase to 27 swimmers this year has been crucial for the longevity of the team and for team bonding. Having more swimmers in each competitive division is very important for bonding, Mike said, as well as for more experienced swimmers sharing their knowledge with newer recruits.
“It hopefully will be self-sustaining and a backbone to the community sports which is well-needed in the community in Hope,” he said.
Earlier this year, the MiniMonsters group for swimmers six and under started. Some of the younger sibling, such as Eli’s three-year-old brother Lucas, are already following in their big brothers’ or sisters’ footsteps.
For the older youth and adults of Hope, a Masters program is getting started this fall. The group is open for anyone 18 or over and with eight already signed up the group is off to a strong start.
All swim groups are open for new Hope swimmers, more information can be found at rivermonstersswimclub.ca.
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