The Grand Forks Piranhas Swim Club is expecting to make waves as they prepare for the start of the season.
The Piranhas feature boys and girls from age 5 up to 17 who practice several times a week. Some of the swimmers practiced over the winter, but now all are participating in spring training in anticipation of the summer meets, which start in June.
Coaching the Piranhas is former coach and club swimmer Matt Grey. Grey, who is a teacher at Grand Forks Secondary School, is excited to be back at the helm after taking a sabbatical for schooling.
“I grew up on the swim team,” he said. “I was the head coach for five years ending
in 2008. I took a break when I was finishing some school and now I’m back.”
Grey coached winter maintenance the last two years and will be coaching during the summer meets.
He said it’s a real balancing act between coaching the swim club and teaching at the school. “It’s definitely a balancing act until school is out. It’s a lot of extra hours but it’s a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding. I get a lot of energy from the kids.”
Grey said that youngsters join the swim team for several different reasons.
“Some kids are here to make friends, some are here to learn to swim, some are here to hone their skills and be the best swimmer they can be,” he said. “We have some swimmers that compete at the provincial level, which is just awesome.”
Grey said the Piranhas really encourage the four Fs: family, fun, fitness and friendship.
“I’m obviously biased because I grew up swimming, but I think swimming is the best sport for fitness,” he said. “You’re building up your cardio and your strength at the same time and it’s close to no-impact because of the buoyancy of the water.”
Assisting Grey are former Piranhas Nicole Nuyten and David Hecht. “It’s great to see kids grow up on the team and then take on leadership roles,” said Grey.
Junior swimmers Jailyn Needoba and Cassiane Larson have grown up with the Piranhas. Both began swimming with the club when they were just four years old and are now both into their eighth year and are as excited as ever for the start of the season.
“Swimming is fun and you get to meet new people,” said Larson.
“You get to race people and it’s fun when we go to events,” added Needoba.
The pair agreed that going to meets is fun and that it isn’t all about winning.
“It doesn’t matter if you win or not, it’s all about sportsmanship,” said Needoba.
“And fun,” added Larson, who also said she enjoyed the adrenaline rush the swimmers get when they race.
Both girls like that swimming is a team sport where each swimmer’s results adds points to the team total but you also have individual ribbons and medals.
Larson prefers the butterfly stroke because she likes the motion, whereas Needoba likes the backstroke, “because you can actually breathe out of the water.”
“It’s easier for me to float and my brother can’t do it,” she said.
The Piranhas first meet is June 6-7 in Trail. The Piranhas’ home meet goes July 18-19. The regional qualifying tournament is Aug. 8-9 in Castlegar.