Two-decades of dom­i­nance

Bay Roberts swim club cap­tures 21st sum­mer ti­tle

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

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.

PHOTOS BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

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.

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