Flying Fins claim trophy at A provincials

Matthew Gourlie
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Local swim club earns strong results under new coach

The Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins have been adapting to change all season.

FILE — Catherine Duchesne is one of seven local swimmers who will be competing at the Man/Sask championships this weekend in Winnipeg.

The local swim club has a new head coach and have dealt with the closure of the Kinsmen pool at various points in the last 12 months.

Still, the club's swimmers continue to thrive.

The Fins won the small team trophy at the A provincial swim championship in Prince Albert recently. There local swimmers earned 79 personal best times and won 37 medals.

"The team did very well. There were a lot of personal best times and lots of medals," said Gord Shields, the Fins new head coach. "The team won a small team trophy for teams that have 15 or fewer trophies. That's a good start for our first championship meet of the year."

The Fins had eight swimmers who qualified for the Man/Sask championships this weekend in Winnipeg. The meet the championship for the two provinces for swimmers with qualifying AA times.

"It's a very big competition. It's at the Pan-Am (Games) pool and there will be clubs from Ontario and Alberta there, so it's really a major competition," said Shields.

Seven local swimmers will compete: Lauran Armbruster, Dallas Popowich, Catherine Duchesne, Joey Doerksen, Polly Hantjidis, Robyn Read and Elyssa Tacchi. Kendal Paulson also qualified, but won't be able to attend.

In Prince Albert, Doerksen earned three gold medals, a silver and a bronze; Duchesne won two gold, two silver and a bronze; Hantjidis two gold and a silver medal; Tacchi a gold and a silver and Popowich won two bronze medals.

Nathan Avery won three gold medals, two silver and two bronze; Richard Tipper earned three gold medals; William Tipper won a gold medal, a silver and three bronze and Alex Folk earned a gold and three bronze medals.

The same weekend, the Junior Cup was held for female swimmers who are 10-and-under and male swimmers who are 11-and-under. The Fins finished third overall in the Junior Cup standings as a club.

Cadence Johns won six gold medals, two silver medals and set nine personal bests at the Junior Cup.

Austin Lin won a silver and three bronze medals while setting nine personal bests.  Quinn Barber a silver and had seven personal bests and Caitlin Miller and Raider Olson each claimed a pair of bronze medals.

Shields has been busy putting his stamp on the club and its programs and he's happy with the progress they've made.

"It's been good. I redesigned the swim club, restructured it and reorganized it. We've had quite a few new coaches come in. It's been really busy getting the club in the direction that I want to go," said Shields who the technical director of Swim Saskatchewan for six years.

Shields got his start in coaching in Moose Jaw in 1990 as an assistant before moving to Prince Albert to become the head coach of the Sharks Swim Club. He pulled double duty as the Sharks head coach and the Swim Sask. technical director before assuming full-time duties with Swim Saskatchewan in 2010. He also was the head coach of the Saskatoon Lazers swim club for two-and-a-half years.

"I want to get the club more directed towards some more high performance swimming, but at the same time I have to make sure I'm taking care of the base of the swimmers — what we call our Mini Fins program, which is a non-competitive program," said Shields who also revamped the Mini Fins program as well.

"It's been a lot of work to restructure the club, but I think we're really moving in the right direction."

Former head coach Monty Smith was with the Fins program for nine years. It took a few weeks, but the young swimmers have adapted well to the changing of the guard.

"I think it's been very positive," he said. "They've really been swimming well, we've have a lot of personal best times in all of the swim meets that we've been to this year. I think they're very pleased with how it's going."

He has settled in Liberty an hour north of Moose Jaw.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Sharks Swim Club

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Ontario, Alberta Moose Jaw

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