For Delta teen Caitlyn Fowler, being a competitive pool swimmer with an enjoyment of open water swimming proved to be the perfect combination for achieving success at the Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championships.
Held in Lac-Simon, Quebec in late August, the championships celebrate the diverse physical skillset needed by lifesavers in a beach setting.
Over the three-day competition, participants compete individually in seven events including swimming; surf skiing; prone boarding; running; and the challenging oceanman/woman race which combines all of these disciplines in a test of athlete endurance.
“I really had no idea what to expect from the competition, especially as this was the first time 14-year-olds were allowed to participate” reflects Fowler, who competes with Vancouver’s Pacific Swim Academy’s ("PSA") Lifesaving Club and also swims with Tsawwassen’s Winskill Dolphins Swim Club. “I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how it all worked out for me.”
By taking second place in all three running events (distance, sprint and close quarter combat), as well as earning first place finishes in the four water events, Fowler claimed the first-ever all-around athlete award in the 14-year-old category.
Fowler’s teammates Abigail and Anna-Marie Skinder took first and second place honours respectively in the all-around athlete award for the 15–18-year-old category. Together they earned 10 medals–all gold or silver. Given that it was PSA's first time at the National event, coaches for both PSA and Gatineau Lifesaving Club agreed to combine forces as a means of providing PSA swimmers with support and camaraderie. The youngsters responded in kind with impressive results, catapulting their adopted team into winning the national team banner.
Pacific Swim Academy coach Phil Skinder–who developed the lifesaving sport club during the first summer of COVID as a means of keeping swimmers engaged–was thrilled with how the trip to Quebec unfolded for his small team. “As the first junior athletes from BC to ever compete at this level, the effort put forward by these young ladies surpassed my expectations,” shares Skinder. “But just as important was the experience of meeting with and bonding with kids from another culture but in the same sport. We felt like family!"
With positions on the national lifesaving sport team roster on the horizon for the teens, the future offers further opportunities to represent the province, and country, while sharing a love of lifesaving sport and water safety with competitors from around the world.
“All those hours training in the pool and in the open water are paying off for me in a way I never imagined a year ago,” explains Fowler. “I’m very excited to see where my future with lifesaving sport will take me over the coming years!”