Classically trained and spawning success
Pruney fingers and bloodshot eyes are symptoms of success for the Kamloops Classic Swimming club.
Three years ago, head coach Brad Dalke and the Classics decided to demand more from themselves — and it’s paying off.
“It didn’t really ever have anything to do with being more competitive or winning more,” Dalke said of the programming changes, which increased the number of hours the Classics spent in the water.
“It was all about having a lifestyle that’s conducive to being an athlete.”
As it turns out, the Classics — by design or not — are reaching new heights and they have the numbers to prove it.
Eighteen Kamloops swimmers — the most in club history — qualified for the Canadian Age Group Championships (for boys 18 and under and girls 17 and under), which run from from July 25 to July 30 in Calgary.
In comparison, Dalke expects Nanaimo — a city with a population and swim-club size similar to Kamloops — to send “six or seven kids” to age-group nationals.
“When you look at our numbers, we’re starting to get into the same area as a lot of the Lower Mainland clubs and Calgary and Edmonton clubs.”
The Classics will send nine swimmers to the B.C. Summer Games, July 19 to July 22 in Surrey, and one member to senior national championships (open age category), July 19 to July 22 in Edmonton.
Perhaps there is no one more qualified to speak about the advancement of the club than 16-year-old Shaina Kloska, a Classic since she was seven.
“We started training more and we started doing more things out of the water,” said Kloska, who hopes to qualify for senior nationals next year.
“It really encouraged kids because they started getting faster because they were stronger.”
Dalke began enforcing a minimum 75 per cent attendance rate and started incorporating dryland workouts — with strength and conditioning coach David Stride — into the training regime.
Most of the Classics easily eclipse the 75 per cent mark and attend more than 90 per cent of practices.
“For example, our 14-year-olds are training 13 to 15 hours in the water per week and another couple hours of dryland,” Dalke said.
“We’re in the middle of summer holidays and I’ve got 25 kids training with me. That’s exceptional.”
The Classics will get some time off in August, but are encouraged to continue training in the off-season.
“The commitment level of the kids has increased significantly,” Dalke said.
“I think the fruits of our labour are finally starting to pan out.”