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THUNDER BAY – Swimming and diving clubs are feeling the post-Olympic boom.
The Thunderbolts were practicing for their upcoming season at the Canada Games Complex Wednesday evening alongside the Thunder Bay Diving Club. Both clubs were making bigger waves than usually as each has witnessed an increase in memberships since the summer 2012 London Olympic Games.
Stewart McLean, head coach of the Lakehead Thunderbolts, said usually swimming isn’t that prominent on the airwaves. But seeing athletes like Michael Phelps and having all the competitions on television every day created a buzz.
“We’ve got the largest number of athletes that we’ve ever had in the water,” McLean said. “Over 200 kids are swimming for the bolts this year. We’ve got a lot of strong, highly ranked kids in the province and in the country who are jacked up because they got a bit of Olympic fever. They seem really ready to go fast this year.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Thunderbolts. Having won two national medals, and four provincial medals last year, McLean said they are excited to do better and looked forward to a number of regional competitions coming up within the next few months.
Jill Ferguson, assistant head coach with the Thunder Bay Diving Club, said new divers have also caught a bit of Olympic fever.
The club has about 16 members, but its open house featured a much bigger crowd.
“I’m a big believer in the diving club,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had a lot of success nationally and internationally. I would like to see as many kids as we can. It’s called a post-Olympic boom. We had a lot of kids coming in saying they have seen diving on TV and they are really interested and would like to try it out.”
Molly Carlson started her sixth year with the diving club and said she was excited because she will be at the top of her age group this year. The 13-year-old is fourth in the country in the sport and hopes to be at the top of her age group, which could give her a competitive edge for future competitions.
On the other side of the pool, Emma Lockyer was in the lanes training for the Thunderbolts. She took bronze in the Canadian Age Group National Championships in Calgary this summer and was selected to go to the Swim Ontario training camp.
The 15-year-old said her goal is to be a finalist at a senior national level meet this year. She’s stepping up her training in an effort to accomplish that.
“I hope this is my year,” Emma said. “It was pretty good last year too. I set myself up well for this year and this year is going to be the same thing or I’m going to set myself up for even bigger meets.”
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