Quite a cycle of renewal

I began thinking about how long I’ve been a swimming official while at the Dryden pool complex on Saturday morning.
When my eldest son was eight, I agreed to take a timing course to assist at a swim meet in Fort Frances.
Later that year, he was attending a swim meet in Dryden and I was standing in the mezzanine of the Dryden pool looking down on the lanes. That morning, my son had one swim that lasted 45 seconds.
I was bored.
At the break, I went to downtown Dryden and purchased a stopwatch so that I could be a timer in the afternoon. And I have never looked back.
Debbie Murray was may son’s coach back then. John Coughtrey was the coach of Red Lake and his wife, Linda, was a senior official. Janet Hyslop was an assistant coach in Thunder Bay.
Today, Janet helps with the Kenora Swimming Sharks. Tom Haney, who coaches the Manta Swim Team in Winnipeg, was the swimming coach in Atikokan.
Both John and Linda Coughtrey were at the Dryden pool this past Saturday. John still is volunteering as a coach in Red Lake.
Some of my mentors in officiating back the mid-1990s were Rob Kavanaugh and his wife, Joanne, Irene MacLeay, and Lee and Elaine Batstsone, all of Thunder Bay. Another mentor was Jeff Holmes, who taught school in Red Lake before moving to Toronto, where he remains active in competitive swimming.
Back then, none of those officials had swimmers competing.
Here in Rainy River District, Bruce Caldwell, Bernie Cousineau, Pat Giles, and Jim Brow mentored me.
The swimming family keeps growing as new generations hit the water.
On Saturday, I was surprised to see children of swimmers who swam with my son competing. Many of those parents were volunteering to assist in officiating and are now taking courses to become better officials.
Kevin McFayden, who swam with his sister for the Aquanauts, has a son swimming for the Cyclones.
Rob Kavanaugh, who has returned to officiating after a brief absence, could relate to more swimmers’ last names. He regularly was remembering swimmers as he looked at names and connected them to swimmers who had competed against his daughter more than 25 years ago.
Irene MacLeay, who was recognized by Swim Ontario for 40-plus years of officiating, now supports her teenaged grandson who competes for a Thunder Bay swim club and continues to officiate.
Competitive swimming has developed many friends for me across the Northwest Region that extends from Marathon to the Manitoba border. We all have watched our children begin competitive swimming as eight- or nine-year-old youngsters often struggling to finish a 50-metre race.
As those youngsters grow, and develop technique and strength, we are amazed that they become fish in the pool—often more co-ordinated in swimming than running across a field.
We celebrate the successes of swimmers in the region. We become excited as our swimmers succeed and are invited to provincial or national championships, or Olympic trials, to compete.
We watch as swimmers head off to U.S. and Canadian universities and continue to compete successfully.
And then almost two decades later, we see their children return to the pool in the region and a new generation of swimmers begins competing.
It is quite a cycle of renewal.

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