Q&A with Tyler Vollman, president of Spirit River Seawolves Club

The Spirit River Seawolves Swim Club is a non-profit organization that provides an environment where young people of all ages can develop their swimming ability. The club is focused solely on the swimmers and their needs to allow them to excel in the sport. The participants swim out of the Richardson Pioneer Central Peace Aquatic Centre in the Town of Spirit River.

Seawolves offer families everything a competitive swimmer expects a competitive sport to possess beyond the recreational level and promotes a family-like atmosphere where they can develop confidence in themselves and promote the development of others. Each swimmer will be challenged to excel; be given equal opportunity to train and compete to his or her maximum potential; be allowed to develop at his or her own pace; and learn the important aspects of teamwork, sportsmanship, team spirit, respect, commitment and self-discipline.

Seawolves’ President, Tyler Vollman, spoke about how the club got its start and what the club hopes the swimmers achieve.

Q: How did the Spirit River Seawolves come to be?
A: I think that, in general, there was interest by a few folks locally. My family was actually travelling to Fairview to compete with our son and we just figured it was time, especially with the newly renovated pool, and that it was something we’d like to take on. Essentially, I did the initial application that was necessary because first we had to be accepted by the Alberta Summer Swimming Association (ASSA). So, that took a lot of upfront work to get document guidelines together and create an association. Once we knew that we had an opportunity, that’s when Patty Imes (Vice-President), Genevieve Payeur (Secretary) and Justine Sawers (Treasurer) had stepped into their roles and we then promoted the club with some informational sessions over the last year and a half.

What are the club’s main goals?
Our main goals are to provide an opportunity for competitive summer swimming for our rural communities. We believe we have the facility in town that meets the requirements of the ASSA and we just want to provide another avenue for kids in sports in our town and the surrounding communities.

What is the age range?
We’ve got 5 year olds swimming and anywhere up to folks who are in their adult years with a total number of 23. Two of those are adults and about half are under the age of 8, which is positive for us having those youngsters because it’s great to be able to start teaching them at a young age and give them the necessary tools, so they can get better and better as they go along.

Is there still room for more to join?
Registration is closed; however, we’re open to any discussions with people who have a real interest in it because we are a new club and we don’t want to completely shut the door on somebody who is interested. Of course, it’s very difficult when it’s summer swimming if you want to start swimming too late – it kind of limits your own development and opportunity because the meets throughout our region only go until the beginning of August. So, we just felt it best to close the registration, but at the same time be open to folks who may want to come out and try it.

Will the swimmers be able to participate in competitions anywhere in Alberta?
No. For one thing, at this point we only run from the month of May to the end of August and like I said, the meets are only until the beginning of August. So, what we do is compete in our region, which is Region A that extends up to High Level, over to Slave Lake and then down to the Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge, Valleyview and High Prairie areas. Then, towards the end of the season there’s a regional competition and if we’re fortunate enough to have swimmers who qualify, we’ll be able to go to the provincials.

How many trained coaches are on staff and what are their qualifications?
We have two trained coaches, Miguel Macedo-Teran and Amanda Howard. They have both completed the Canadian Swimming Coaching and Teacher Association requirements with Swimming 101 – Swim Canada through the National Coaching Certification Program. Essentially, it’s a weekend of advanced training and then they have to follow up with some activities throughout the year to further certify themselves. They are both young and eager to help out, which is a positive for us going forward.

Does the club accept both competitive and non-competitive swimmers?
Yes. Participants can register as either competitive or non-competitive. Essentially, what the non-competitive means is that you don’t compete at the meets. We’ve asked the folks here who have some interest in the meets, whether participating or just taking in the event, just to understand how a meet functions and then that’s what we believe is kind of the reward and the fun part for the kids to be able to be together as a group, on those meet days, which are every Saturday in the summer.

What will participants be learning?
The four main strokes, which are the butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle and the backstroke. Combined with that would be diving, starts, flip turns, how to compete in the various events and there are relay opportunities as well. So, really promoting the team environment and then the individual skills. What we’re kind of promoting to everybody is the sport of swimming is different for everyone. It’s a lot like golf – you can compete against yourself, you can compete against other swimmers and swim clubs. Also, you can challenge yourself to compete provincially and then having the relay side of it is where the team aspect comes into play where they’re cheering for one another throughout the day and that’s an opportunity for them to also swim together.

(In closing, Tyler wished to thank all the club’s supporters, including Town of Spirit River, Tourmaline, Saddle Hills County, Craig and Nicole Heitrich, Spirit River Flooring and all the individuals who have supported their fundraising activities.)

If you’re interested in joining the Seawolves or learning more, call (780) 296-4359, or e-mail spiritriverseawolves@gmail.com. The staff at the pool can also field calls and direct you to the Spirit River Seawolves.