West Coast Wind Swim Club
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
1. What is “Winter Club” (aka: year- long competitive programming) and how does it differ from “Summer Club” in official status and purpose?
A “Winter Club/ Year-Long Programming” begins in September and generally ends in late July/early August. These athletes train from September- early August and compete throughout this time as well.
The West Coast Wind Swim Club is a “Winter” / year-long competitive program.
In “Summer Club” there is a “competitive” season and a “maintenance” season. The competitive season is from May-August, during the time athletes train from 3-8 hours a week and have the option to compete most weekends. Their maintenance season occurs from September to April, during which time athletes do not compete and are only able to train for two hours with a coach every week.
In Powell River/qathet the PRAC-Powell River Aquatic Club (aka- POW) is a “Summer” club.
Note: There are exceptions to the two-hour rule, specifically in terms of swimming lessons/lifeguard training.
2.Who is in charge of “Summer” vs. “Winter/Year-Long” clubs?
There are two different PSOs (Provincial Sport Organizations) in BC that oversee the two different competitive swimming programs. The BCSSA (British Columbia Summer Swimming Association) oversees “Summer Swimming” and SwimBC oversees “Winter/Year-Long” programs. On a national level, Swimming Canada oversees both.
3. What size of pool do athletes train and compete in?
Generally, “Summer Club” athletes train/compete in 25-meter pools.
In “Winter/Year-Long Programming” swimmers are encouraged to train and compete in different sizes of pools (both 25-meter and 50-meter) which is why they experience two separate seasons throughout their Sept-July programming.
The first season is “Short Course” season (occurring approximately between September-February) where swimmers are training and competing in 25-meter pools. The second season is “Long Course” season (occurring approximately between February-July) where swimmers are training and competing in 50-meter (aka Olympic size) pools.
Of course, many facilities and teams do not have access to 50-meter pools to train. It is normal for swimmers to train in 25-meter pools throughout the entirety of the year and compete in 50-meter pools during the long course season.
4. Does the pool size have an impact on an athlete’s ability or times?
Yes, in a long-course pool there are less turns and less walls which means fewer push-offs, usually leading to slightly slower times. This is reflected in the time standards for short course versus long course season. Short course standards are generally faster than long-course standards. However, athletes can absolutely end a season with faster long course times compared to short course times. It fully depends on the individual and where they are at in their training.
5. What are “time standards”?
In “Summer” swimming athletes are able to go to any of the meets in their designated region until the Regional Championships. To attend the Regional Championships athletes need to have attended one meet previously in the season. Then, to attend the Provincial Championships athletes need to either “make” a time standard (Provincial Qualifying Time) OR place top 3 in the finals of an event at Regionals. They then have the option to be “bumped” into Provincials if one of the top 3 decides not to attend, any of the other athletes that competed in the top 8 in finals can be bumped into a top 3 spot.
In “Winter/ Year-Long” programming there are multiple meets that swimmers can only attend if they make particular time standards. The most common are Regional Championships, then Divisional Championships, followed by Provincial Championships, and finally any form of National level competition (Westerns/Canadian Junior Championships etc). Athletes are not able to attend these meets without first achieving time standards. The standards differ depending on the meet, and these are often found on the Swim BC or Swimming Canada websites.
There are often two different standards per meet (a short course standard and a long course standard), the standards are categorized by stroke, gender and age-group.
Note: Swimmers can achieve their Regional/Provincial/National standards at any meet throughout the year, it doesn’t need to be done at Regionals or any specific meet. Often, they need to be done within the current season, but occasionally the time limit is extended.
6. Do “Summer” and “Winter/Year-Long” athletes train/race different strokes or events?
Yes - see the table below.
“Summer” Club athletes:
*Note: Eligible events are determined by athletes' age/division.
“Winter/ Year-Long” Club athletes:
*Note: Any age is able to compete in any event within reason. However, standards/age groups are usually for athletes 11 years old +
7. How do bigger communities and smaller communities differ in their programming?
In most cities/towns athletes are provided with multiple sport program options. The average swimmer will begin with swimming lessons, learn that they enjoy swimming and decide to join a competitive program.
Usually, the “Winter /Year-Long” program is known in its community and runs throughout the year with programs for kids ages 5+. These clubs are generally quite large and accommodating to all types of swimmers at all ages. This means that the average swimmer would begin their journey in the sport at any point of the year within the program that is closest to them in location and at the time that suits them.
Example: In Victoria, in 2018 there were 4 different competitive “Winter Clubs” running in different parts of the city at the same time out of multiple pools. The Tyee Aquatic Club alone hosted their program out of 3 separate pools with a coaching staff of 6+ lead coaches. Island Swimming hosted out of at least 2+ pools with a coaching staff of 10+ coaches as did Pacific Coast Swimming.
Of course, the “Summer Club” winter maintenance programs were also running out of their own pools as well at the same time.
Thus, in most cities/towns, the “Winter/Year-Long” program and “Summer Club” will run happily side-by-side with swimmers choosing to join either program or both depending on what their school year is like, the other sports commitments they are in and what they are hoping to achieve in the sport of swimming.
8. So why is the West Coast Wind more exclusive with group limits?
Powell River/qathet has tried to create a “Winter/Year-Long” program in the past to provide our community with the opportunity to train/compete all year long. Unfortunately, creating a new sports program (especially one that runs for most of the year) is a lot of work and difficult to do/maintain. Thus, past attempts didn’t come to fruition.
In the Fall of 2021, driven equally by stubbornness and passion, we were able to create the Wind. However, being new and fresh, we are still learning how to run and maintain the program. Thus, we need to grow slowly in a manageable way. We are aiming to double our registration every season to keep the program manageable for our directors and coaching staff. We also need to be mindful of the rest of the swimming community and their need for open pool space/time. At this point, the club is only able to book a certain number of lanes per week which means we can only have so many athletes in the water at any given time.
Ideally, in years to come, our program will be larger and welcoming to swimmers of all ages and abilities without limitation.
9. What will it look like for your swimmer to swim for both the summer and winter programs?
Many swimmers do both programs, and nearly all of the Wind athletes were once POW athletes or still are.
Over the months of September until May, the “Winter/Wind” swimmers would only train with the Wind (2+ times a week). Then, when May comes and the “Summer Club” (POW) competitive season begins again, the swimmers can continue swimming with the Wind, or with POW, or both.
During the May-August “Summer Club” season, these dual-club athletes would maintain registration with both programs and thus could compete in both “Summer Club” meets and “Winter Club” meets – or neither if they choose.
If they do choose to compete in both types of meets they would maintain their regular status with Swim BC, but with BCSSA (“Summer Club” meets) they would become “O-Cat” status rather than “S” status.
10. What is “O-Cat” and what is “S”?
These two classifications are unique to BCSSA/ Summer swimming.
The “O-Cat” status stands for “Open Category”. This status is given to athletes that have trained over the 2-hour-per-week limit during the Fall/Winter off-season. This is, again, to ensure that athletes are competing fairly with their peers. Generally, athletes with this classification have been training a higher amount because they are training with a “Winter/Year-Long” program, like the Wind.
The “S” status signifies a “Summer” swimmer, i.e.: one that trained within the 2-hour-per-week rule in the off-season.
As an “O-Cat” swimmer you are divided into 3 divisional categories during the summer season instead of 8 age categories/divisions and by gender.
The division/categories are:
O1- ages 8-12
O2- ages 12-16
O8- ages 17+
11. How will it affect their experience in the summer next year?
Many “Summer Club” athletes who transition into “Winter/ Year-Long” programming consider how transitioning to “O-Cat” status will affect their experience in summer swimming. Essentially it is all the same except there are usually fewer swimmers in your category (“O-Cat”) to race at meets (until Provincials, where of course, there are many more). However, the experience of racing with lots of people in full heats that you would typically get in the summer as an “S” swimmer, you would now get throughout Sept-July at the “Winter” meets.
12. If they decide winter isn’t for them after year one, what will the next summer look like?
If a swimmer decides to train with a “Winter/ Year-Long” program over the course of a year, and then swim with a “Summer Club” over the summer, they would be classified as an “O-Cat” for that summer season, however, in September the slate is wiped clean and so long as they do not train over the 2-hour-per-week rule in that off-season they would return to being an “S” swimmer for the following summer.
13. Are there any age or ability requirements in order to join the club?
At this point the Wind only has 3 “training groups” each of which requires athletes to have significant swimming experience and at a minimum need to be able to swim 1,000 meters in an hour (40 lengths of the pool). They need to have an awareness of all of the strokes as well as stroke rules. Currently, these groups have been created for athletes ages 8+.
A fourth developmental group for ages 5-9 may be introduced in the 2023-2024 season.
The club is currently looking into creating a para swim program for athletes who have specific needs/requirements in order to train/compete. In the future, we hope to accommodate more athletes of all ages/abilities.
14. Can an athlete have a “test” period to see if they want to join the club?
Due to our restricted number of spots in our training groups athletes will not be given the option of a test period. If the groups are not filled within the registration months of August/September. A testing period will become available for interested athletes until all spots are full.
15. Which program is right for my athlete?
As noted above, “Winter/Year-Long” programming offers more options for stroke specialization in terms of distance. It allows swimmers to decide whether they prefer longer or shorter distance races and so programming is created for swimmers to explore all of their options and determine their preferences. Also, given that this is a year-long program there is more time to intentionally correct/refine stroke technique, build endurance and improve overall strength/athleticism. On the side of all-around athletic development, having this time allows for more team-building, mental/emotional sports training and practice with goal setting.
Athletes who have big goals in swimming often want to train and compete as much as possible, these athletes would thrive in a year-long program.
16. Is it still fun?
We do our best to ensure that every swimmer feels seen, valued and affirmed at practices and meets. Swimming is an incredible sport, and we want to ensure that above all else our athletes continue to grow in their love for this sport. That is our top priority.