COCHRANE— The Cochrane Comets swim club opened its registration for the 2021 spring season on March 15.
The eight-week season will run from May 4 to June 30, with the team meeting twice a week for 45-minute sessions. The season is open to youth aged five to 10 years old.
The club recently returned to the water after a brief hiatus due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
“We couldn’t get into the pool with the current restrictions until the middle of March, so at the first two weeks of March we worked with Spray Lakes [Sawmills Family Sports Centre] and their trainers and had them doing dry-land activities,” said head coach of the Cochrane Comets Danielle Genung.
Although dry-land training is a regular part of the training regime for the young people in the program, this year the club put a larger emphasis on it to ensure that youth could keep their “aerobic engine running,” Genung said, explaining the activities were meant to ensure swimmers were ready to get back in the water when the opportunity came along.
“It’s a very slow go-back, just because we’ve been out of the water for weeks, and weeks, and weeks at a time. With swimming it’s important to keep up,” she said.
Genung explained it is important to keep up with swimming by maintaining a high volume of time spent in the water, as opposed to other land-based sports, like hockey or soccer, that can be supplemented by other activities.
“We’re in the water a lot, and when you take that away there isn’t a lot that can replace swimming, so we have to do the best we can,” Genung said.
Perhaps more important than maintaining the physicality necessary to participate in swimming is the social aspect of the club, Genung said.
“Our kids have really missed the connection. The stress from COVID, the change in their whole routine and their whole lifestyle, it's impacted their mental health quite severely. It’s more important to them to be with their friends than it is to swim, to a degree,” she said. “That’s kind of where our focus is, we want to take care of who they are as people and pepper in swimming and slowly reintegrate them back into the water.”
Socialization was one of the big reasons the club persisted with dry-land training, as it served as an opportunity give the youth an outlet to socialize with one another during a difficult period.
“They just wanted to see each other. Seeing them smiling, and laughing and together was the primary benefit, and secondary to that was just them having the ability to move their bodies,” she said.
For the youth in the club, Genung said, many of whom ended up taking school lessons from home, the club has become a crucial outlet for their social needs.
“What COVID has taught us has been a lot around just being connected, and remembering what youth sport is all about, which is just taking care of people over their performance, for lack of a better word. It’s creating amazing humans inside the world of sport, and just hoping that what we’re teaching them has a positive impact. COVID took away the ability for us to connect and be together and learn together. Bringing back the connection, I think everybody has realized what we missed,” she said.
Sports programs like the Cochrane Comets are more important than ever right now. Genung explained that dealing with the stress of COVID-19 and all that comes with it is a balancing act, and finding a physical outlet is key in striking balance in life.
“We all really need physical stress to balance out our physical and emotional stress. Not all stress is bad. We need stresses to balance out other stresses,” Genung said. “When that’s taken away it just amplifies what’s happening mentally and emotionally.”
The Cochrane Comets registration is open to youth aged five to 10, and meets on Mondays and Wednesdays.
To find out more visit the Cochrane Comets Swim Club at cochranecomets.ca/.