Sea Lions roar to pro­vin­cial ti­tle

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER TC MEDIA nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

NICHOLAS MERCER/TC MEDIA SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

There were plenty of sweeps at this year’s pro­vin­cial swim meet.

NICHOLAS MERCER/TC MEDIA

A group of young swim­mers re­ceive their medals dur­ing the ban­quet.

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