The transition of coaching styles appears complete for the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins.
Joey Derksen from the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins swims the butterly at a recent practice at the Kinsmen Sportsplex. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Gord Shields took over as the head coach for the Fins this season and as they headed into the A provincials and Junior Cup championships, the swimmers looked strong.
With over 130 swimmers from 10 different clubs across the province competing in the event in Swift Current over the weekend, many local swimmers brought home medals and set new personal bests.
“We had an outstanding weekend. It was good to see them swimming fast and they all swam well,” said Shields. “I am just very pleased with how they swam. I saw some huge improvements in their technique.”
Shields knew this would be a transition year for him and his swimmers as they move and adapt to his style from the previous coach, Monty Smith.
“That was a major goal for me this year. I wanted to get the swimmers used to my type of coaching and adapt to the new training process and my philosophy on how to train,” he said. “I was really pleased with how they swam this past meet. It just shows that the training is going well and they have adapted to it. Now, we are really starting to pick it up and do some really good fast swimming.”
There is an A provincial level and an AA provincial level standard. Most of the Fins began at the A level with only four or five having AA standard times. Now, there are 14 swimmers with AA times.
Not only that, but there are new swimmers in the competitive stream as well.
“There is about eight or 10 of the competitive swimmers are new,” said Shields. “Others were in the program before, but didn’t compete and they were in the learn to swim program. We had about 55 competitive swimmers now.”
Having more swimmers in the competitive program helps develop the program.
“We want to see those non-competitive swimmers move into that competitive program and that did happen,” he said. “We do know another six or eight from the non-competitive program will be moving into the competitive program next year, so that is really good to see that development also.”
There were 18 swimmers that went to compete and a combined 47 medals were won. Many of them won in multiple events as well.
Matthew Gobbett won six gold medals and took off 8:48 off his previous personal best in the 1,500m freestyle event.
Joey Derksen won two gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal. Catherine Duchesne won four gold medals and two silver medals. Other multiple winners included Jared Booth, Polixeni Hantijidis, Cadence Johns, Austin Lin, Caitlin Miller, and Kendal Paulson.
“They all swam outstanding,” said Shields. “The older swimmers have now adapted to their training and we saw some excellent results in this meet across the board.”
The Fins are scheduled to host a meet on June 21-22 at the Natatorium, but are unsure right now if it will go ahead because of the current issues with the outdoor pool.
“We expect that to be a big meet and we’ve had a positive response as well,” Shields said.
At the end of June, the club is heading to Montana for their final meet.
“It is a four-day meet and it is going to be fairly high level meet,” said Shields. “It will be great for our swimmers to face others they have seen before. It will be a really exciting swim meet and I expect more really good performances.”