In their biggest turnout yet, seven members of the Yukon Graylings Masters Swim Club travelled to the Masters Swimming Association of B.C. Provincial Championship in Richmond, B.C., from April 27 to 29.
Club president Victoria Ryan said the weekend was a success in more ways than one.
“It went well results-wise, and it was just a really good experience for everybody that went,” said Ryan. “It was a very positive experience.”
The Graylings had a strong showing on the leaderboard and on the podium, finishing 17th with 17 total medals — six gold, six silver and five bronze.
The club is just a few years old and has only sent at most three swimmers to this competition in years past, said Ryan.
“It’s super positive,” said Ryan. “We were the 17th club out of 36, which we think is good considering we pretty much just started out a few years back as a club. We’re super stoked about that.”
Ryan attributes the increase in participants at the championship to an overall increase in participation at the club.
“We were just literally a handful of swimmers when I started it together with three other ladies,” said Ryan. “It has really grown in popularity over the past few years.”
Registration this year was between 30 and 35 — a far cry from the initial year one membership of just five.
Clearly, Whitehorse swimmers like what the club is doing.
“We’ve got a good group of swimmers now and obviously there is an interest in swimming with us based on the increase in swimmers we have, so I think it’s just a direct result of that,” said Ryan.
The club season runs from September to May, and Ryan said provincials has been a target for quite a while.
“I think the thought of going to provincials maybe formed around the beginning of the year. So the seven of us at least have been trying to stay pretty consistent with swimming three times a week,” said Ryan.
Masters swimming is open to swimmers over age 18 of all skill levels with categories splitting swimmers into five-year ranges.
In total, more than 250 swimmers from across B.C. and the Yukon took part in the championship.
“You see the whole range,” said Ryan. “You see former Olympians and then you see the 94-year-old woman who swims the 800-metre freestyle — which is very endearing and very motivating actually to see.”
Betty Brussel, age 94, of the Okanagan Masters Swim Club was the oldest competitor swimming over the weekend and registered in a total of eight races.
Beyond the swimming, Ryan said the opportunity for adults to focus on their own interests for a weekend is a big part of the appeal to the championship.
“[W]e’re all adults with busy lives at home and kids and all that stuff, but it’s such a nice environment to be in and to do something after your job that’s focused on your own hobby,” said Ryan. “I think everybody thought it was a really good experience. Not just the swimming, but the social part.”
Although a year away, Ryan said interest is already brewing for next year’s championship in Victoria.
“Our goal is to be a bigger group than the seven that we had this year.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org