The Cyclone swimming club in Fort Frances has continued to practice, even when COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from participating in tournaments and competitions.
Debbie Murray, swimming head coach, said despite not being able to hold competitions this year, the Cyclones are continuing to practice, hoping for a busier season when COVID-19 restrictions relax.
“Considering all the COVID restrictions and everything, we’re really doing excellent,” Murray said. “We’ve certainly had our struggles with the restrictions, the number of swimmers and how we can host our practices, but we are moving forward and doing the best we can.”
The Cyclones have their practice sessions at the Fort Frances Memorial Sports Centre. Murray said they muddled through both closures, and have made the best of reduced capacities.
Murray said they were initially only allowed 10 swimmers, then 18 when the region was in the Yellow zone. Now they are back to the 10 limit capacity since the region entered the Red zone.
Restrictions around swimming practice are set by Swim Ontario – a body that governs all Cyclone clubs and certified coaches in Ontario. Swim Ontario implemented a Return to Swim Protocol in order to set safety guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 for the coaches and families.
Although the youngest member of the Cyclone club in Fort Frances is just seven years old, Murray said all of the children are aware of the safety guidelines.
“It’s really impacted our swimmers, but each of our families has been excellent and understanding and the swimmers have been great,” Murray said. “Our kids are well disciplined. And the swimmers are great as far as the restrictions on the deck, restrictions in the change rooms and how they come in and out. My coaches have been fabulous as well in working with the restrictions to continue the program.”
Besides the swimmers having to maintain a two-metre distance in the pool, Murray said they have to follow directional swimming. With directional swimming, they could only have four swimmers per double lane. Swimmers have to also have to walk in one direction along the deck, going into the pool at one side and leaving at another.
The sports centre runs two programs: developmental and competitive.
Those who enrol in a developmental swimming program learn all the strokes and the skills they need to swim competitively down the road.
Murray said they have lifeguards enrolled in the developmental swimming program to fine tune their skills and become very strong swimmers.
Private swimming lessons are also currently taking place. The restrictions for private lessons are set and monitored by the Northwestern Health Unit and the Red Cross.
“Each time we have a change in the program that Swim Ontario will allow we have to go to our supervisor lifeguard Rebecca Armit and [recreational and culture manager] Aaron Bisson. They have to approve and support along with our requests with some material to make it happen.”