With the welcomed return to their home pool at the Sportsplex, the Fort Frances Aquanauts swim team is looking to make another big splash this season.
While the team has been training for the past two weeks in preparation for its first developmental meet of the season Oct. 18 in Atikokan, Aquanaut head coach Debbie Murray said she’s ecstatic her swimmers are back in their home pool.
“It’s good to be back in our own turf," enthused Murray, beginning her 11th season as the Aquanauts’ head coach. ”It’s important we get into our regular routine.
“Right now, our big goal is to get the swimmers back in shape.”
Last season, the team was forced to rely on a heavy regime of dryland training to offset the diminished pool time it got while training across the border in International Falls.
They were forced to relocate to a different venue after a cracked beam in the roof of the Sportsplex shut the pool down back in February.
“The two main things we want to work with the kids right now is technical work and endurance,” said Murray, noting swimmers’ pool time can range from three to 12 hours per week, depending on their level of competition.
Murray, who will be assisted this season by returning coaches Pamela Shaver-Walker and Nicole DeGagne, added dryland training, which was crucial to maintaining the swimmers’ fitness late last season, once again will be part of their conditioning program.
After coming off a successful season a year ago, which produced several club records, Murray would not single out individual swimmers who may have a banner year for the Aquanauts. Instead, she added there is “generally a good group of kids” who are committed to swim.
“It’s still too early in the season. The key is to get the training in but I am optimistic,” she noted.
“The key with our competitive swimmers is to get [them] in shape," echoed Shaver-Walker. "We have a bunch of promising new swimmers that we [also] want to get in shape for our upcoming meets.”
The Aquanauts will host a pair of meets this season—the East/West meet here Jan. 10 and the Fort Frances Invitational May 9-10.
Meanwhile, registration numbers in the Aquanaut program are “down a bit” from last season but both coaches downplayed the drop-off.
“[Registration] always fluctuates from year to year when kids enter high school and find other things,” explained Murray.
Numbers also are down in the Masters program (adults) but Shaver-Walker was quick to note more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
“We have a more committed, focused senior group coming out with us,” she said, adding Master swimmers have the chance to hit the pool five times a week.