Rams Swimming is the brainchild of Jonathan and Robyn Gilman, a couple with nearly 30 years combined experience as both coaches and competitive swimmers themselves. The couple, who will act as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, for their club, moved to Dawson Creek from Langley, B.C., after seeing an opportunity to start a new club.
“Dawson Creek has a great pool, but it doesn’t have a year-round swim team, and is one of the few communities in B.C. that doesn’t have one, so that was the initial idea,” said Jonathan.
He currently works as a full-time medic, but was a full-time swim coach for over 10 years. His wife swam for 15 years with the Penticton Pikes Summer Swim Club and at one point held every female club record in every division. She has also coached in Penticton and Langley. She is currently employed at the Kenn Borek Aqautic Centre as a lesson supervisor.
Jonathan said he hopes that ability to offer “big-city-style coaching” in Dawson Creek will attract swimmers from the community and beyond to the club.
Dawson Creek does already have the Seals Swim Club, but he said there are some important distinctions between the two clubs. He said the Rams club will be offered from September through to June, and the schedule for training will be worked around holidays and days off of school. He said swimmers in the club would also be competing in longer races, geared more towards triathlon events than sprint races.
He said they initially hope to start off with by participating in competitions once a month in surrounding communities such as Fort St. John and Grande Prairie, but as the club grows, the goal is to compete further abroad. Training would take place two to three times a week, he added.
The club is open to anyone 11 and older, including adults, though members should be able to swim one length of the pool unassisted, and should be comfortable in deep water.
“We don’t offer a learn-to-swim type program, we’re more of a learn to swim better, learn to swim faster and get in shape – swimming as a sport,” said Jonathan.
However, he said for those swimmers who want to get in shape but who do not want to swim competitively, they plan to offer a recreational program as well as a competitive program.
He said he believes the club can be successful as it offers an affordable alternative to other sports like hockey, and is open to both genders. He added there will be no fundraising required from members.
For more information on Rams Swimming, including how to register and a fee schedule, go online to www.gorams.ca or phone 250-719-6100 (office) or 250-219-7510.
As for the impact of the new club to the Seals Swim Club, Julie Ann Sellmeyer, past president for the Seals, said she doesn’t anticipate having to compete for swimmers with the Rams.
“I don’t know what kind of impact it will have, if any,” she said. “Most of the swimmers in our club are very committed summer swimmers and are involved in numerous activities in the wintertime, so training would be quite difficult.”
The Seals’ season runs from May until mid-August. Sellmeyer said swimmers could potentially join both clubs, and she doesn’t discourage that, but there would be some complications regarding training and categorization during competitions.
“In the wintertime, summer swimmers are only allowed two hours per week of coached swimming, period,” she said. “If they choose to swim with the winter club, that’s great, but if they come back in the summertime their category becomes an ‘O’ category, and they won’t swim against the same swimmers (they otherwise would).”
She said she wishes the Rams club success, and hopes they can work together to promote competitive swimming in Dawson Creek.
Winter maintenance (training) for the Seals club begins Oct. 3, and every Monday and Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. for those interested in joining. Sellmeyer can be reached for more information at 250-782-1856.