Cyclones to host season-opening swim meet

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

The Cyclones Swim Club season is well underway with about 40 swimmers registered in both developmental and competitive programs.

Tara Tolley is the chair of the club. She says things are going well so far this fall.

“There’s been good interest for the start of the year,” Tolley and her husband Brian said over the phone.

Brian is the club’s meet manager.

On Oct. 28 the Cyclones will host their first meet since the club started and the first meet in Fort Frances since 2018 when the former Aquanauts club last hosted a meet.

The Cyclone Short Course Invitational will be the first meet in the region for this year, they said.

“We’re having swimmers in from Thunder Bay, Atikokan, and Dryden come in,” Brian said, “It will be about 65 swimmers for the meet on the 28th.”

Head coach Debbie Murray says it’s a great sign for the growth of the club that they’re able to host a meet.

They have 12 competitive swimmers right now, who swim between four and seven hours a week at various times depending on their own schedules..

“The one word I have to say was ‘excited,’” Murray said, “To finally see the club hosting a regional meet, it’s been a long time coming with the development of the club. We can be very proud moving forward.”

Brian says they’ve had a lot of support from volunteers in the community come out to support the meet as well as officials and they’re really looking forward to the event.

“It’s the first one we’ve done and a lot of volunteers are helping out,” he said. “It takes a lot of people to put on a swim meet. We’ve gotten a lot of support from parents and community members who don’t have kids in swimming any more and still help out so that’s good too.”

Murray says swimmers have been working hard since the season began and they’re hoping for some good outcomes at the meet.

“Swimmers have been training really hard since we began our season on Sept. 8,” Murray said. “They got their schedules and whatnot all sorted out between school and other activities. So they come at their scheduled times and practice. I can say that the coaches feel that they’ll be very successful in this week leading up to the 28th. They’ve put in a lot of work and I think we’ll see the results of that.”

Unfortunately shortly after the meet, the pool at the Fort Frances Memorial Sports Complex is scheduled to close for major repairs.

The roof support columns of the pool structure have failed and need replacing. Engineers evaluating the pool for renovations last spring discovered that the roof is not safe to have people under it when snow comes. The pool will be closed from early November into the spring.

Other work being done includes replacing HVAC in the pool area, replacing the pool deck and the piping running under it. As well, there are cracks in the pool itself and the liner needs replacing.

Tara says the shutdown is disappointing but they understand the need for the work.

“The timing of the pool closure is unfortunate,” she said. “However, the club recognizes the need for the upgrades, and that it will mean a better facility for our swimmers going forward.”

The club has also been able to make arrangements for their competitive swimmers with International Falls High School which has its own pool.

“We are grateful to be able to continue with our competitive swimming season in conjunction with International Falls High School,” Tara said. “The school has been very generous in allowing us to use their pool around their regular programming.”

The Cyclone Swim Club will be holding the first meet in Fort Frances in five years on October 28. The Short Course Invitational will see 65 swimmers from across northwestern Ontario competing in the local pool, ahead of a scheduled shut-down over the winter months. – Allan Bradbury file photo

They may also have opportunities to train with the Atikokan Swim Club.

Unfortunately younger swimmers will be left out for the winter, with hopes of getting them more swim time in the spring once the pool is back up and running in Fort Frances.

“Our developmental program has been paused for the duration of the pool closure,” Tara said. “We are looking forward to offering spring sessions to get these kids back in the water.”