Nine-year-old Violette Freimark polishes her form at the RiverMonsters’ winter fit practice. Eight young swimmers are staying in tune through the off-season

Swim meet returns to Hope in 2017

The RiverMonsters is planning to organize a swim meet in summer this year.

In June of 2005, 321 swimmers and their families congregated at the Dan Sharrers Aquatic Centre for the last swim meet to be held at the local pool before the resurgent Hope Otters club folded.

Now, a new club — the RiverMonsters — is planning to put Hope back on the schedule in 2017.

“We’re going to have a meet on June 10 and 11,” said club vice-president Catherine Freimark. “The community is getting behind it and we’re going to need a lot of community help.”

The swimming community in the Fraser Valley will also be there to assist in the hardware, manpower and expertise needed through the weekend.

“We’re hoping the swimmers and their families can camp close to the pool, like they do at other meets,” said Freimark, a Sunshine Valley resident. She and newly-elected president, Holly Hine, will have to discuss such plans with the District of Hope.

“Last summer, the club went to seven meets in the Fraser Valley region (from Langley and Maple Ridge, eastward) and one regional championship meet,” said Freimark.

“It’s so good to see the kids competing against themselves,” she said. “When they finish a race, they don’t wonder who came first… they wonder if they beat their best time.”

Many of the clubs in the summer swimming association are based at outdoor pools, which are closed from September to April. Advantage: Hope — though there’s a catch.

“To keep their summer status, swimmers can only train with a coach for two hours a week during the winter months,” said Freimark. “They can swim as much as they want to on their own, though.”

The club is running a Winterfit program on Mondays and Fridays, with Freimark’s husband Mike volunteering as coach until summer swim coach Kila Hine takes over in April. Mike said he is qualified as an NCCP level 3 hockey coach and has coached up to top-end bantam rep. He brings the communication and organizational skills from the rink to the pool, aided by what he has picked up from his current correspondence studies.

Main goals of the winter program are maintenance of strength and endurance and correct stroke technique, said Catherine. That means lots of laps — but there’s fun and a bit of science worked in, too. The club has purchase swimming aids, which are stored at the pool.

“The hand flippers strengthen the shoulders and if your hand gets out of position, the flipper really carries your hand off-line,” explained Mike.

“The foot flippers condition the legs and get the kids up to race speed,” he said. “Most kids don’t have the core strength or technique to do the butterfly stroke — and flippers give them the propulsion to work on the stroke.”

While many kids want to focus on speed, they need to get the strokes perfected, to keep race officials happy. “They can get disqualified if they’re not doing the correct technique,” said Catherine.

Catherine Freimark can be reached at 604-860-4373, or through

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