Swimmers from around central Alberta converged on the Aquaplex last weekend to compete in the Ponoka Pool Sharks’ annual Cookie Classic.
The swim meet brought competitors from five other clubs to race for medals and best times; those who make their best times get a homemade cookie as a reward, explained coach Bonnie Christensen. Giving cookies for best times started some years ago for the club, whenever simmers made a best time they would receive a cookie. Christensen said they decided to do that during a swim meet, hence the name.
There were 165 swimmers at the meet and while the Pool Sharks have competed in a few events already, she said it’s always fun to be in Ponoka. “For us, we get to race in our home pool.”
Athletes are more familiar with the walls and pool, which she feels makes concentrating easier. The Sharks ages range from six to 18-years-old and each age group seemed to perform well in either their best times or in ranking.
“I think that’s pretty fantastic,” stated Christensen.
The pool was full of cheering family members, swim marshals, turn officials, timers and of course swimmers, who vied for top spot in their swim challenge. Standards set by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) are strictly followed during these challenges. Christensen’s swimmers use these standards as they get into higher levels.
She has three groups of swimmers:
• A developmental group, which is learning some basics and learning proper swim strokes
• An intermediate group that has the swim techniques but is now working on speed. “That’s kind of what they’re working toward getting to that provincial level.”
• An upper-level/senior group that has a strong grasp of techniques and is now working toward faster speed and times. These swimmers are at the provincial level and are working on getting faster and getting their times to national standards.
“Once you hit the senior swimming it’s a whole different ball game,” said Christensen.
While areas of Canada have different swim time standards, she wants to see a national level that covers the whole country. Christensen said Alberta’s national time standards are slower than the east coast.
“Our swimming Canada should be up with USA times…But we’re not there yet,” she said.
For the season, though, she is working on ensuring her swimmers have a chance at provincials. “I think the kids are doing really well.”
She feels they have a strong chance at provincials and has one swimmer who has competed at nationals in Calgary two years ago. For now, Christensen will continue to train her swimmers and get them ready for provincials in February and March.