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Neptunes ready to make a splash during COVID-19

Neptune Developmental Program coach Madeline Holitzki, explains how the two-meter rule applies to swimming. — Submitted photo

One of the pillars of successful athletes in any sport is perseverance and the British Columbia Summer Swim Association’s Nelson Neptune Swim Club has epitomized that from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “We had over 60 swimmers in our spring 2020 session when the facility closed and youth sports were shut down, but we were one of the few swim clubs in the entire province that was able to put together a short practice season last summer in the outdoor Salmo Pool with 32 participants," said Chad Badry, President of the club.

"That turned out to be a great move to keep the swimmers engaged and have all that extra planning in place for when we were able to return to our home pool at the Nelson & District Community Complex."

"The RDCK Recreation Commission and the NDCC have been instrumental in collaborating with the Neptunes to keep our youth involved in swimming," Badry said.

"That extra planning involved big changes to everything from how the practices are run to rules entering and leaving the facility  — all with no parents or spectators. Although the kids can now change in the facility, they originally had to wear their wet bathing suits home under their winter clothes. 

Although the participant numbers have dropped a little, the Nelson Neptunes ran fall (33 swimmers) and winter practices (45 swimmers).

They owe some of the decline in numbers due to limiting the number of participants in the pool at the same time and the inability to provide hands-on coaching for the younger swimmers.

With no swim lessons offered, the Neptunes have received constant enquiries about getting those younger swimmers in the water. This summer is looking really good for the Neptunes as they are finally able to put together a developmental program for younger swimmers that will start at the end of June. General registration opened up last week and the Neptunes have had 43 swimmers register so far. 

While it’s not looking good to host and attend any summer swim meets, the Neptunes are expecting to participate in virtual events and are excited to see the return of Matt MacDonald as the head coach and Elisa Centrone as the assistant coach.

MacDonald, originally swimming with the Kelowna Ogopogos, now swims for Queen’s University. This will be the second year for MacDonald and Centrone. Centrone, grew up swimming with the Neptunes and is just wrapping up her first year at University of Lethbridge.

Madeline Holitzki and Laurel Nixon will start coaching with the club in June to support the Developmental program.

It’s been tough for the club financially as expenses went up to make sure the practices were safe for the kids and participant revenue dropped.

“We had tremendous help from the Government of BC through the Local Sport Relief Fund and Gaming Grant, the Canadian Government through the Canada Student Grant, and local sponsors," Badry said.

"Just prior to the Pandemic we started fundraising to purchase starting wedges for the swim blocks to give our swimmers a chance to practice with them prior to attending big competitions throughout the Province.”

The Nelson District Credit Union provided funding for two of the wedges, the Nelson Neptunes have raised enough for the purchase of two more, and there is now a funding and advertisement opportunity to purchase two more. 

Anyone interested in joining the Nelson Neptunes can find more information at www.nelsonneptunes.teampages.com