Sea Lions roar to provincial title
The Bay Roberts Sea Lions swim club picked up their 22nd consecutive summer swim meet provincial banner Aug. 28 in Gander. It was tighter than usual, with only 40 points between them and second place, but the Sea Lions held on and kept adding to their impressive banner total.
They came as they always do. In a long motorcade, vehicles dressed up in familiar blue and yellow with balloons and streamers. They were celebrating another Bay Roberts Sea Lions swim club provincial summer title on Aug. 31.
It’s the club’s 22nd consecutive year they’ve returned from Gander with the coveted banner.
As they’ve always done, members of the club took their motorcade through communities in the region and headed towards the Bay Roberts Lion’s Club for a celebratory night where they recognize all of the hard work swimmers have put in over the summer months.
Along the way, they blared horns and let people know they were proud of the effort put forth by the 98 athletes who went to Gander and the other swimmers who participate throughout the summer.
The early morning practices are all worth it when the championship trophy is sitting in same corner it’s sat in for more than two decades.
“There’s been much more interest this summer than in past years. We’ve had a lot more younger kids getting involved,” said coach Rebecca Bishop.
The influx of younger swimmers jumping in the pool bodes well for the club. It opens the possibility for more athletes travelling to Gander and is important in keeping the program going.
The challenge then becomes keeping them around.
“Hopefully we can keep that interest and not only have kids when they’re young, but grow up as they go through swim team,” said the coach.
Things got a little hot in Gander this year. By all accounts, it was Sea Lion’s narrowest mar- gin of victory ever. Teams from Clarenville, Grand Falls-Windsor and elsewhere, took their best shots at the dethroning the champions.
They defeated their rivals from Springdale by just 40 points. As they say, ‘If you come at the king, you best not miss.’
Surely, there were some nervous coaches and parents on Aug. 28 as the results rolled in. Coaches breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Sea Lions on top again.
It was closer then they thought it would be.
“I think that’ll push the kids to train harder and work harder,” said Bishop.
Swim club isn’t all about Gander or the summer club championship. There are other aspects as well.
It can be about building relationships, meeting new people, forging new bonds and learning a skill that will help you through life.
As is usual at the banquet, a Sea Lion will guide us through what it means for them to be a member of the swim team.
This year it was Sarah Barrett’s turn to lead the couple of hundred people into that world.
“When I started, that one lap of the pool seemed like it was a long way and it still does,” said the 10-year veteran of the swim wars. “As a Sea Lion, not only does your family support you, but the team as a whole supports everyone to always do their best and to encourage you.”
Sarah pointed to the motorcade, the annual walk in the Klondyke Parade and other aspects of the program that bring her back year-after-year.
“At swim meets, you make friends with swimmers from other teams and look forward to seeing them each year,” she said.
As there are every year, the Sea Lions had some clean sweeps of the podium and some top achievers.
In the boys eight and under backstroke, swimmers Blake Saunders, Owen Dyke and Keagan Elms finished first, second and third to take all of the medals. Meanwhile, Charlie Seymour (eight and under boys), Adam Dawson (9-10 boys) and Samantha Yetman (11-12 girls) were top achievers.
On top of that, dozens of swimmers posted personal bests and brought home medals.
“This summer’s been really great,” said Bishop.
The graduating swimmers from the Bay Roberts Sea Lions cut the cake at the banquet last week. They are, from left, Kyle Downey, Paul Franey, Courtney French, Shauna Burton and Andrew Churchill. Samantha Yetman (left) and Charlie Seymour were two top achievers from this year’s provincial swim meet. Missing from photo is Adam Dawson.
There were plenty of sweeps at this year’s provincial swim meet.
A group of young swimmers receive their medals during the banquet.