By Joseph Heo
Sadly for the Calgary Keikos, the swim meet on April 14th/16th will be their last swim – or at least until next year’s season starts.
The Calgary Keikos is a swim club that has been operating in Calgary for the past 13 years. They are a semi-competitive swim club working to promote talented swimmers and provide an encouraging environment for them to nurture their abilities. The practices are held thrice every week at the Foothills Municipal Pool, located near the University of Calgary and McMahon Stadium. If you ever visit Foothills Municipal Pool from 7:45 – 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or 8:00 – 9:00 pm on Fridays, you’re bound to see enthusiastic, engaged, young swimmers, working hard to improve their records. Of course, there are some not-so-enthusiastic adolescents, whose parents forced them to enter the program. However, the majority of those participating in the program enjoy the water, and competing against others during swim meets.
The Keikos have two sister clubs: the Barracudas and the Seals. They cooperate with each other in order to organize swim meets, once a month. By cooperating with each other, the clubs can guarantee their participants have a wide variety of competition, as there are more swimmers to compete against. The swimmers are separated into 10 groups (based off age and gender), and they swim certain events against those in their group.
I am very fortunate to be part of this “Keikos Swim Club”, and as in commemoration of the end of its 13th year, I decided to conduct an interview with the head coach, Jacob, and write an article about it.
Jacob is the current head coach of the Keikos Swim Club, and the son of the previous chairman of the Swim Club. He was recently promoted two years ago to the position of head coach, after the previous coach retired from his position. He is a swimmer on the Dinos, the University of Calgary’s official sports team. He was also a member of the Keikos when he was in high school. Therefore, he has deep roots within the Keikos Swim Club, which is why I decided to interview him.
Q1: How long has the Calgary Keikos been running for?
A1: The club was created 13 years ago and has run since.
Q2: Why did you agree to become the head coach of the Keikos?
A2: I grew up in the club and went through the volunteer coach program. I was offered a position as assistant coach after I was done swimming. The following year I was offered the head coach position. I love coaching and becoming head coach seemed like a natural step.
Q3: What is your favorite part about coaching the swim team?
A3: I enjoy all aspects of coaching. Something that keeps me coming back is seeing the success and growth that all the swimmers have and knowing that I helped them achieve that.
Q4: What are your goals for the swimmers of the club?
A4: I would like all the swimmers to be able to swim all strokes with correct technique, starts and turns. I would like them all to enjoy their time at the pool while learning to live a healthy lifestyle and learn skills that they will be able to use later in life.
Q5: Could you tell us a bit about the volunteer coach program?
A5: The volunteer coach program is for swimmers 15 years and older that would like to develop their leadership skills. All of our volunteer coaches are also swimmers in the older age group. Coaches attend regular meetings and development sessions to further their skills and understanding of swimming. They coach our younger swimmers from 7 pm until 8 and then swim from 8 until 9 pm.
Q6: When and how/why was this swim club created?
A6: The Keikos originally swam at the YMCA as the Torpedoes. In 2003 a group of parents decided to start a new club swimming out of Foothills pool. They gathered a group of 33 swimmers and opened the club officially as the Keikos.
Q7: How long have you been involved with the program?
A7: I started out as one of the original swimmers with the club in 2003. I swam until I was in grade 12 in 2012. I started coaching in 2009 and have continued since.
Q8: What do you believe makes this swim club a good environment for swimmers?
A8: I believe that the non-competitive environment allows for swimmers to relax and have fun while still allowing them to learn. Swimmers still learn the required skills and have access to an excellent program without the associated costs or pressures of performance.
Q9: I have done some research on the name “Keiko”, and found two possible sources of origin from our club’s name. One of them is an orca named Keiko, while the other is a Japanese name, which means blessing. Where did the club’s name originate?
A9: I think it came from the orca and that is why our symbol is also an orca. But I can’t be entirely sure who thought of it.