In Edmonton, the best aquatic sports facility we have is the Kinsmen Sports Center. It was built in 1968, and played host to the aquatic sports during the 1978 Commonwealth Games. It used to be the home to the most powerful swim club and some of the best swimmers in the country.
It has been a sad slow progression over the past thirty years from the Kinsmen being a premiere high-performance sport facility to one that the City prefers to be used as a public swimming pool for kids and families. The Kinsmen is the only facility in Edmonton suitable for hosting high-performance swimming competitions, and it is the best training facility for aquatic sport clubs in Alberta. The city has a dismal record in recent years of servicing those groups, however, and instead caters preferentially to recreational use. Edmonton has a history of producing world-class swimmers, divers and synchronized swimmers, but that legacy will remain history if the city does not take a more active role in servicing competitive sporting organizations.
The Kinsmen is the only facility we have that is designed for competitive aquatic sports. Let the city’s high-performance clubs use it for that, and encourage the pubic to make use of the city’s other pools for recreation, or build a dedicated recreational pool along side of the Kinsmen.
The city should also give more time to swim clubs at the new Terwillegar pool, and stop preventing swim club access to that facility with the misguided intent of preventing clubs from competing with the city’s swimming lesson programs.
The only alternative is to kiss Edmonton’s storied history of national champion and Olympic swimmers and divers goodbye.
You can weigh in on the City’s plans for the Kinsmen on the Transforming Edmonton website. They have a survey open from February 16 -25 that you can fill out as well. Details of the City of Edmonton’s Master Planning process for the Kinsmen are available here.
I’m off tonight to the U of A Swimming Alumni Fundraiser silent auction. It’s at Hudson’s Tap House on 104 Ave in Edmonton. I mentioned it previously. Jenn, along with Sara, Mark, Mike and Dave put a lot of effort into organizing it, and they’ve managed to round up lots of great donations. Hopefully we can kick off the scholarship endowment with a good chunk of money.
I went to the University of Alberta Swimming Alumni AGM this week and volunteered for the board of directors. There is an increasing amount of interest in it, and more younger people are coming to the functions, so that’s great. We need to try to track down and include some older alumni in our ranks.
We’re running a fundraiser function in a couple of weeks on Thursday June 19th called the Reagan Williams Pub Night and Silent Auction. There is a Facebook page describing the event. Here is the official flyer. Tickets can be obtained by contacting the email addresses in the flyer, or at the door, but it would help us to know the approximate number of people coming in advance, so I would encourage interested parties to contact the email addresses.
The purpose of the fundraiser is to collect funds to help establish a University of Alberta Swimming scholarship endowment in the name of Reagan Williams, so that the swimming organization at the university can use the scholarship money to attract some talented swimmers and strengthen the program. The money raised will be added to the funds collected at the memorial service for Reagan. The alumni are pretty excited to be a part of it. It should also be a good social opportunity, which I’m all in favor of. If you are a former U of A swimmer, a friend or colleague of Reagan’s, or just part of the swimming community around Edmonton, come out and rub elbows with some old friends.
This weekend we went to the first summer swim meet for our region in Westlock. Mack and Emily both put in their usual head-turning performances. Both kids moved up in age group this year, Mack to 9 & 10, and Emily to 11 & 12. Since Mack is now in 9 & 10, he got to do his first ever 100 m free race, which he won by about 20 m. He also did best times in 25 fly and 50 free and won all his events. Emily stood up and put down a 100 free of 1:08.92, which would have been second in 11 &12 at provincials last year. It’s the third fastest 11 year old time recorded in Alberta in 2007/2008 among year-round swimmers. That should get her competition shaking in their speedos.
Westlock put on a good meet and it ran smoothly and quickly. It was a good start to the season.
I went to the University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame dinner last night, with the swimming alumni crowd. It was a big event with over 900 people in attendance, and raised a lot of money for U of A Wall of Fame scholarships. I took a couple of photos of our table and will post later.
It was good to run into Sam Cooper, Gavin Martinson, and pretty cool to meet Lori-Ann Muenzer at the event.
Congratulations to all the new inductees.
According to Tom Evans, often when he would come to Edmonton, he and Reagan would meet at the Kinsmen and have the “Old and Slow” 50 Fly race. In honor of Reagan, we decided to swim a race on Saturday before his memorial. Tom Evans, Scott Lebuke, me, and Dave Goodkey showed up ready to swim, with my wife Jenn, Dean Schultz and his wife Jennifer, Scott Lebuke’s wife Mary Jean and Tom’s dad Dr. Evans as spectators and photographers. We swam the race in true Reagan style, with no warm-up at all. We did it with the middle lane empty for Reagan.
Tom won, but we all managed to get through it with legal fly, including two-hand touches, despite Lebuke’s last-minute attempt to change us to freestyle. During our post-race photographic analysis, Tom said I was in the lead at the 3 metre mark. He suggested I just needed a couple of practices to work on that last 47 metres.
All in all, it felt like a good way to remember Reagan. I’m still a bit sore, but still smiling.
The Edmonton Thunderbirds (including my kids) finished the Alberta Open Water Polo Tournament in second place, for a silver medal. They ended up with three wins, one tie, and one loss in the gold medal game. The winners of the Tournament were the Los Angeles Water Polo selects team. LA also won in several of the other age groups.
Emily was on the leaderboard for scoring finishing sixth or so in the top-scorers list. Mack didn’t see as much playing time as Emily, but he did very well. I think he’s learned a lot this season. The final game was not as close as I thought they could have done. They didn’t quite play as well as they had in the round-robin. Regardless, they can be proud of themselves. It was a good showing overall.
We’re at the Calgary Open Water Polo Tournament. Tonight the Thunderbirds played their first game of the tournament against the Fraser Valley team. It was a real nail-biter, but the Thunderbirds won 17-16 in sudden-death overtime. So far, it’s a good start.
This past weekend was Regionals, marking the second-last swim meet of the season for the kids. They both had some great swims and some mediocre ones, but both won all their events and both qualified for four individual events and four relays at Provincials.
Emily had a best time in 100 Fr and 100 IM, and her fly split on the medley relay was faster than the age group record for 25 fly, so she’s pretty excited for Provincials. She and Camile Barr from Fort Saskatchewan are within a few one-hundredths of each other in both 50 and 100 free in first and second, and she is seeded first in 25 fly, but only by a couple of tenths. She’s second behind Camile Barr in the 100 IM, but by several seconds. Camile must have a good breaststroke, because that makes a huge difference in the IM, and my kids both suffer from my curse of crappy breaststroke kick. Emily has been slowly overcoming that though.
Mack took over a second off in the 50 free, getting himself ranked first in the province, and did his best time in the backstroke as well. He’ll be in the fight for medals at Provincials, but the kid to beat is Chad Sieben from Camrose, who seems to be first in everything, and in some things by a wide margin.
Both kids were on relays that were pretty successful at Regionals, so their teammates and them get to race in both the free and medley relays at provincials. A lot of the Sailfish kids are pretty excited to be able to go to provincials for relays. The weekend should be fun and full of some good races.
Saturday was the Stony Plain meet. It was a scorcher at over 30 degrees in the outdoor pool. I think by the end of the day Jennifer and I were more tired than the kids. At least they got to get into the pool and cool off (and swim a race) now and then. Emily swam 50 free, 200 free, 25 fly and 50 back. She won all but the 200, which was a 12 & Under event. She was second in that and did her best time by a few tenths. Mack swam 50 free, 25 free, 25 back and 25 fly. He won all of them and both kids won the gold aggregate in their age group. Some of the other 8 & Under boys were complaining to Mack that he always wins everything. He said “No I don’t! I got one silver this year!”
The season’s going well, and we’re down to two meets left: Regionals and Provincials. Then we’re on vacation until school starts again.