A new competitive structure by Swimming Canada prompted the Liquid Lightning to merge with the Kelowna AquaJets. -Image: Liquid Lightning

Liquid Lightning joins Kelowna AquaJets

After 23 years, West Kelowna-based swim club has put its program on hold

After a successful 23 years in West Kelowna, the membership of the West Kelowna Liquid Lighting Swim Club had to put its program on hold and join the Kelowna AquaJets Swim Club.

The move was prompted by a new competitive structure implemented last year by Swimming Canada.

This structure has increased the importance and length of the long course (50m) season and by default decreased the importance of the short course (25m) season.

In order for LLSC West Kelowna swimmers to remain competitive on a provincial, national and international level, they require long course qualifying times and need to be training in a 50m pool.

Despite efforts from H20 and KAJ, it has been increasingly difficult over the years for LLSC swimmers to access and train at H20 utilizing the only 50m pool in the Central Okanagan.

In January 2017, the LLSC Board of Directors begun to explore the options available for LLSC to remain viable in West Kelowna.

”We looked at every feasible option and after months of conversations, the answer was imminent,” said Susan Toyata, president of LLSC.

On June 11, at a special meeting, the membership voted in majority to join the Kelowna Aqua Jets.

The Liquid Lightning Swim Club Association will be put on hold for a period of three years and all swimmers in the West Kelowna, Westbank and Peachland region will register and swim with the Kelowna Aqua Jets as of September 2017.

Very little will change for the swimmers regarding schedules, coaches and training programs; other than our West Kelowna, Westbank and Peachland swimmers will now be representing the Kelowna Aqua Jets.

This transition will increase the KAJ membership to just over 300 swimmers, with programs running in three pools, including: H20, YMCA and JBMAC.

“It is difficult to see the end of LLSC,” said Emil Dimitrov, head coach of both LLSC and KAJ. “I moved to West Kelowna nine years ago with my two sons and late wife Eli to coach LLSC and I have loved every minute of it.”

Dimitrov has brought LLSC to be both a nationally and internationally recognized swim club and has helped produce Olympian, Kierra Smith who represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympic games last summer placing 7th in the 200m Breast stroke event.

“LLSC has been vibrant in our community for the past 23 years, but circumstances beyond our control have forced this difficult decision to be made,” said Dimitrov.

“The effects however impact not only our current swimmers, but also our past LLSC swimmers and the community at large. West Kelowna will no longer have a swim club to call its own. To add to this, swimming and other aquatic sports continue to be more and more popular for both our younger and older generations and the demand for pool time will only continue to increase.”