Pool sharks and competitors swim for a cookie

Nearly 150 youths, tight competition and a whole lot of cookies made a splash at the Ponoka Pool Shark’s Cookie Classic swim meet Nov. 28.

Shawn Jones

Shawn Jones

By Jasmine Franklin

Nearly 150 youths, tight competition and a whole lot of cookies made a splash at the Ponoka Pool Shark’s Cookie Classic swim meet Nov. 28.

“We wanted this to be a fun, traditional event,” said Scott Shimp, swim meet manager. “If you beat your own personal best time, you receive a cookie — a Pool Shark tradition.”

The swim meet, the first to be held in Ponoka in almost four years, included participants from Ponoka, Barrhead, Leduc, Rocky Mountain House, Slave Lake, Sylvan Lake and Three Hills ranging in age from six to 15 years.

But the trademark of the meet was handing out cookies as a reward — a tradition that Shimp says the Pool Sharks have carried on for some time, and other swim teams have started to notice.

“At other meets if one of our swimmers beat their previous time, they get a cookie,” Shimp said. “A lot of other clubs recognize us for that so we thought that would be a good running theme for this meet.”

Though a fun competition, the pressure was on for those dedicated swimmers trying to qualify for provincials.

One Ponoka Pool Shark, McKenna Christensen, at a young age of 10, is already ranked third in Alberta for her age category in the 50-metre breaststroke.

“I want to go to the Olympics when I’m older,” said “I think I can do it.”

Christensen swam her way to a time of 36.50 seconds during her 50-metre free swim, almost making a qualifying time.

There are two ways to make a qualifying time, explained Shimp. In two categories, either the 400-metre free or 200-metre individual medley swims, those with the required qualifying time will head to the age trials. However, for more competitive swimmers, there are both A and B qualifying times — those who make the A time mark head directly to provincials.

Though only the first meet in Ponoka in almost four years, the team remains dedicated; on the Nov. 21 weekend 10 Pool Sharks attended the Calgary Winter Club where the Ponoka team earned 30 medals and had the top three finishes Shimp said..

Head coach of the Pool Sharks, Bobbie-Rae Christensen, said there are around 30 members on the team, 90 per cent of whom beat their personal best times.

Christensen said there were lots of qualifying B times.