The Cochrane Piranhas were hungry to show the competition whose waters they were in this past weekend at their first and only host swim meet of the season July 15 and 16 at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC).
The summer swim club finished the weekend with countless new personal bests and one new provincial record, set by a former member of the Calgary Swordfish – Aaron Xiao.
“He set a new provincial record on the 100-metre fly,” explained Piranhas head coach Amy Swedlo. “It’s been great having him be part of the club, he really pushes everyone on their sprints.”
Xiao beat the previous record held by Wells Ginzer from Okotoks by 1.9 seconds with a final time of 1:06.12. He was competing in the 11 to 12 age category.
Club president James Lange recalls when the record was set by Ginzer a few years ago. It happened in the Piranhas home pool at SLSFSC.
“When he broke that record in our pool it was amazing to watch,” said Lange. “Seeing provincial and club records broken is a very rare experience.
“With Aaron though, we keep seeing this happen again and again to the point that it’s become commonplace. It’s just what he does and it’s become like routine to him.”
The club has a lot of young talent and is in a bit of a rebuild phase this year, explained Lange. They lost a few members over the last two years with COVID-19 restrictions and many aged out of the club.
“I think this is the youngest club we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “There are lots of new swimmers this year.
“It’s great because you have some of these kids who could barely swim a lap at the beginning of the year and now we see them out there doing backstrokes and freestyles. Some of them are starting to get into butterfly and breaststroke.”
Lucky for the young up-and-comers, there are quite a few experienced, older Piranhas in the pool to look up to.
Both Lange and Swedlo believe the club’s relay teams will lead the charge into provincials in August. Of the club’s 60 swimmers, the head coach said they think at least half could qualify.
“I think our best ever is 28 swimmers at provincials,” said Swedlo. “I think we have the potential to exceed that this year.”
Outside of the pool, Lange and Swedlo said the club’s success wouldn’t be possible without the support of parent volunteers and support from the facilities they swim in.
According to the club president, over 100 people volunteered for their Cochrane meet. Many of them are parents filling the roles of officiators on the pool deck.
“Some of the electronics and things we ask and train them to do can be a bit complex,” said Lange. “The new families to the club deserve a lot of credit because the swimming world can be quite bewildering, there’s a lot going on.
“The fact that they’re out here getting out of their comfort zone to help us out and just plugging in where needed is amazing.”
Lange gave a special shout-out to their meet manager, Lisa Preston.
“Managing a meet of this scale is no small undertaking and Lisa did a great job,” he said.
After a couple more club meets for the Piranhas they will take to regionals in Calgary at the MNP Community and Sport Centre Aug. 6 to 7. The Alberta Summer Swimming Association Provincial Championships will follow for qualifying swimmers from Aug. 16 to 18 at the Kinsmen Sport Centre in Edmonton.