Growing up, Olympian Kierra Smith competed with soon-to-be dissolved the Liquid Lightning Swim Club. -Image: Jason Ransom/COC

Smith rues folding of swim club

Kelowna’s Kierra Smith, a Pan Am Games champion, grew up with the Liquid Lightning Swim Club.

The following is a letter by Kelowna’s Kierra Smith, an Olympian and Pan American Games gold medalist who has some thoughts about the Liquid Lightning Swim Club shutting down and joining forces with the Kelowna AquaJets:

My swim club folded a week or two ago. Liquid Lightning Swim Club is no more. I read about it on our club’s website.

I have mixed feelings on this as I’ve had many ups and downs with my club but it’s never a good thing when a club, no matter how small, folds up. We had a pretty good 23 year run in West Kelowna serving the needs of competitive swimmers in Westbank, West Kelowna and the west side of Kelowna (geography is complicated here). At the beginning of last year our coach announced that he was coaching both our club and the bigger Kelowna club across the bridge in their 50m pool. This seemed doable but eventually he spent more time there than most anticipated and the faster Lightning swimmers eventually moved to Kelowna and now everyone is expected to trade in their yellow caps for red ones. I’m out of the loop on all the whys and whatfors but I’m sure there was politics aplenty. There always is.

Over the 23 years our club didn’t set the world on fire with our swims but we stood toe to toe with the larger clubs from Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton and Vernon. We lost more often than we won, but we won sometimes. Liquid Lightning was a place to go before and after school for about a thousand kids on the west side over the years. You know a local swimming community is functioning properly and doing something right when you see a long lineup of cars lined up at 4:45am waiting for a coach to unlock the parking lot gate. Everyone enjoyed being there and many of us became best friends over the years. Even though it may have all ended with a website announcement, Liquid Lightning was a tremendous success story and had real, positive impact on a lot of people and the surrounding community. Everyone involved did something important that they can be proud of.

So we’re now the Kelowna Aquajets and this isn’t the end of the world. I swam with them for five years and enjoyed every minute and have a hundred stories and more memories. I wish everyone the best. Emil believes strongly that the Lightning swimmers need regular training access to a 50 metre facility in order to get qualifying times for Westerns and Canadian Junior Championships. I suppose he could be right but I have a firm bedrock, north star belief that the best swimmers in the world are borne out of the oldest, crappiest 25 metre (or yard) pools. Same as the best prize fighters come out of the dirtiest, smelliest gyms and best soccer players from makeshift soccer pitches in the world’s roughest neighbourhoods.

I’m going to be a good sport about this and really do hope this all works out. Swimmers and swim club parents sometimes have a tendency to be cliquey and I just hope everyone looks out and pays special attention to all these new KAJers, especially the younger ones, as they transition to their new club. It might not seem like it’s tough but joining up with a new club represents a lot of change in a young person’s world. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through in 2010-2012 again after I switched clubs. I guess what I’m trying to say is let’s all be good to each other and take care of one another.

I’ll see everyone in August.

Kierra Smith

Just Posted

Cure for Alzheimer’s disease remains elusive

Complexity of the brain still defies discovery of drug treatment

World Down Syndrome Day: The up side of Down

A Kelowna family’s journey with Down Syndrome: ‘There is tremendous beauty in these kids’

Closing arguments in Kelowna murder trial expected today

Closing arguments in the trial of a Kelowna man accused of fatally stabbing his friend

Historic grad ceremony for Westbank First Nation technicians

14 Indigenous workers become first public works technicians in B.C.

Kelowna artists donate to nonprofit

The Kelowna Palette Club held its annual Simply Art Show with donations to United Way

Wilkie returns home with three medals in tow

Paralympic champion returns home with a gold, silver and bronze from the 2018 PyeongChang games

Vancouver Island university develops program to help kids cope with overdose crisis

A child and youth care professor worked with students to develop projects focused on children, families and communities dealing with opioids.

Liberals tried pilot project with Facebook data whistleblower in 2016: source

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts

No opting out: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones soon

Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for a looming update to the National Public Alerting System

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel and U.S. company ICM Partners

Texas bombing suspect blows himself up as SWAT moves in

The suspect in a spate of bombing attacks that have terrorized Austin over the past month blew himself up with an explosive device as authorities closed in

Witnesses: Boko Haram returns Nigerian kidnapped schoolgirls

Witnesses say Boko Haram militants have returned an unknown number of the 110 girls who were abducted from their Nigeria school a month ago.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read