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NORTH DELTA — Local pools are filling with competitive swimmers as clubs begin their 2015-16 seasons.
In North Delta, swimmers with Delta Sungod Swim Club are learning from Maxime Maréchal-McCoy, the club’s new assistant head coach, at Sungod Recreation Centre.
Maréchal-McCoy swam competitively for 13 years, and has experience as a national-level swimmer in both Canada and France.
“In my career, I stopped (swimming) for awhile in secondary school and I missed it, so I got back into it again,” he told the Now. “I’m a competitive person, I like to push myself. I love the thrill of competition, and that includes coaching young swimmers.”
With the Sungod club, Maréchal-McCoy will focus on the younger swimmers while six-year head coach Kurt Murphy concentrates on the higher-level athletes.
“I started as an assistant head (coach) here in Delta and we got rid of the position for two years, and brought it back this year, just for better service to our members,” Murphy said on recent Friday afternoon as swimmers warmed up on the “deck” at Sungod.
“We needed that extra staff member with the rise in club membership, because it was becoming a bit overwhelming.”
The club has seen almost 200 per cent growth in membership over the past few years, Murphy noted.
“When I got here (in 2009), the club was at 60 or 61 members, and now we’re close to 128, and we’re still filling spots. Swimming in general sees about a three-per-cent growth per year, across the province, the nation. Here at Sungod, we’ve offered a lot of flexibility with the programs, so people who are trying to join the sport enjoy that, I think.”
Some of the club’s swimmers arrive at Sungod for 5:15 a.m. sessions as often as twice a week, with 5:45 a.m. start times also the norm.
“I have a lot of respect for the kids, waking up early three or four times a week, being so dedicated,” Maréchal-McCoy said. “It’s really amazing. And the parents, too. They have to be supportive. At this level, when you see what they want to do and achieve, it’s important to be so committed.”
The club’s Developmental Age Group (DAG) and CompDev swimmers – aged 10 to 14 – were in the pool when the Now stopped by Sungod. Their season began on Sept. 14.
This year, Maréchal-McCoy will oversee the DAGs and also the Mini Dragons 3 group, which targets 10-and-under swimmers who show potential for higher-level competitions.
For local swim clubs, the competitive season begins Oct. 17 during the two-day PSW Fall Invitational 2015 meet, hosted by Pacific Sea Wolves at Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre.
“Swimming is one of the most thankless sports, meaning that you have to train a lot, and the competition-to-training ratio is so low,” Maréchal-McCoy explained. “But that’s the way it is, and the kids love being in the water, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. The thing is, with swimming you have to be in the water, training, to become a really good swimmer. We’re not running.… We have cross training as well, but at their age it’s just best to be in the water.”
Delta Sungod Swim Club offers competitive, recreational and learn-to-swim programs for kids aged 18 and under. In order to join the club, swimmers must be at least five years old, able to swim 15 metres unassisted and be comfortable in deep water. For details, call 604-345-5912 or visit Teamsungod.ca.