It took 10 years, but TRU now has a swim team

Varsity team starts with three, but will soon add more to its ranks

WolfPack swimmers (from left to right): Jacquelyn Belanger, Sarah McChesney and Jagdeesh Uppal before a practice. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

WolfPack swimmers (from left to right): Jacquelyn Belanger, Sarah McChesney and Jagdeesh Uppal before a practice. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Brad Dalke, head coach of the new WolfPack swim team and the Kamloops Classic swim team, approached TRU’s athletic director 10 years ago about starting the var­sity program.

“I wanted to be able to provide our swimmers here in Kamloops a chance to stay in Kamloops after high school, and be able to have a competitive racing opportunity,” Dalke said.

The team has three members so far. One of them is Sarah Mc­Chesney, who has been swimming for 11 years. She is in her first year of general studies, but would not have enrolled at TRU if it weren’t for the WolfPack swim team and its coach.

“I met Brad in February at pro­vincials. I also talked to the SFU coach and the UVic coach,” Mc­Chesney said. “I went with Brad. You’re spending 12 hours a week in the pool. You have to have a coach that you get along with. He’s real­ly nice. He really knows what he’s doing.”

Seven students attended the try­outs last week but couldn’t meet the practice commitment.

“I have a couple of kids who are looking to transfer in January. They’ve actually finished [high school] and are considering going to school in the winter session, and starting with the WolfPack,” Dalke said.

The WolfPack swimmers practice eight times a week alongside Kam­loops Classic swimmers, which is a competitive community swim club.

“This is a joint project between TRU athletics and Kamloops Clas­sic Swimming. We’re integrating the varsity swim program with our local swim club here in Kamloops. Compared to the other programs at TRU, this is considerably different.

“Community club kids range anywhere from six to some people in their 70s. This model that we’re using is similar to what UBC and the University of Calgary have,” Dalke said.

Dalke explained that the Wolf­Pack swim team will still func­tion as a separate entity, but the competitions will involve both WolfPack and Kamloops Classic swimmers.

“Once the university made the move to CIS, that opened the door for us. The university has only been a full CIS member for about six years.

“Because it’s an individual sport, you’re looking for competitive rac­ing opportunities. Internationally, Olympians are primarily coming from university ranks. Our goal is definitely to get kids swimming at the international level, or give them the chance to do that,” Dalke said.

In February, the WolfPack swim­mers will go to the Western Cana­dian Championships and the CIS Swimming Championships.

The team is open to more than just competitive swimmers.

“We’re looking for students to develop as coaches and instructors for the Kamloops Classic program,” Dalke said.

On Oct. 10, the WolfPack will have its first intercity dual meet. From Oct. 17 to 19, they will at­tend the Penticton Pentathlon.

The varsity season will continue until the end of February.