Two-decades of dominance
Bay Roberts swim club captures 21st summer title
The swim club summer trophy sat in a familiar place at the Lion’s Club in Bay Roberts on Sept. 2.
Resting on a table in a corner next to a stuffed seal named Sammy, the championship trophy has been here before. In fact, for the last two-plus decades the trophy has belonged to the Bay Roberts Sea Lions.
For the last 21 years, the team has bested its competition at the Arts and Culture Centre swimming pool in Gander. They’ve won 23 championships in total.
On its annual banquet night, the Sea Lions were celebrating another successful swimming season. Before filling the Lion’s Club, the parade swept through the town.
Led by the Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department, dozens of cars decorated in blue and yellow celebrated another standout year in the water.
Through the Kentucky Fried Chicken and soft drinks, swimmers recounted their favourite memories from the summer recently finished. They remembered the annual Gander pizza party, going hoarse from cheering on their teammates and the personal best times they set.
At the Sea Lions banquet, it isn’t about the top three finishers. It’s about everyone.
Yes, they’ll recognize top achievers like Benjamin Eddy (under-8 boys), Bradley Dawe (910 boys) and Kyle Tetford (15-16 boys), however, they include everyone after that.
Besides, it’s every single swimmer that contributes to the success of the team.
“We’re like a community,” said Jesse Downey as she and her brother Kyle brought greetings from a Sea Lion. “You learn a lot with swim team. You go to Gander and everyone there is so supportive. Everyone shakes each others hand and pats you on the back. It’s a really important life lesson.
“Accepting defeat, it’s really good health-wise … you learn a lot of team and individual skills. You’re part of a team and you’re wearing the colours of a Sea Lion. You get out there and you feel like you’re a part of the best team in the world and that’s something.”
Every year, the group hands out funny awards. They’re designed to give the parents a quick chuckle and pull a giggle from the younger swimmers.
In the past, the Sea Lions have handed out goggles to athletes who don’t use them. On Wednesday, the group, gave children crocks, floatees, tissues and watches all with a sly grin and hearty laugh.
At any Sea Lions banquet one thing is going to stand out to you. There is very little done individually or without the support of teammates. The younger athletes all support the older ones. They look on in awe as the older swimmers receive their medals and plaques.
Everyone supports each other.
On more than one occasion a chant for ‘Bad’ Paul Franey echoed through the Lion’s Club. It rose from a tiny rumble to a full chorus when swimmer after swimmer bellowed ‘ bad Paul!,’ ‘bad Paul!’
It wasn’t done with any malice or bad intent; it was more like a younger sibling chiding their older brother.
“We’re like a family,” said Kyle Downey. “I’ve met some of my best friends because of swim team.”
The club’s oldest and youngest swimmers pose with the championship trophy at the end of the evening. Shown here are Calleigh Morgan (left) and Rebecca Bishop.
Swimmers, from left, Paul Franey, Bridgette Franey, Courtney French and Kayleigh Flynn pose for a picture during the Bay Roberts Sea Lions annual banquet at the Lion’s Club on Sept. 2.
Every year, the Sea Lions hand out awards for the club’s top achievers. This year they went to, from left, Bradley Dawe (9-10 boys), Kyle Tetford (15-16 boys) and Benjamin Eddy (under-8 boys)
Lloyd Morgan was all laughs when he received his yellow rubber ducky floatee when the Sea Lions handed out their funny awards.