Pikes working through challenges presented by pandemic

Photo Courtesy of Shannon Schlamp Della Anderson, Leila Schmalz, Olivia Schlamp, Ana Rodea and Olivia Harris of the Prince Albert Pikes Artistic Swim Club received top ribbons for their performance in the Marine Eistetter Training Meet, which was held virtually in November.

During the last year, Prince Albert Pikes Artistic Swim Club head coach Katherine Ingebrigtson has had to change some of the traditional approaches that come with teaching artistic swimming.

“We’re so accustomed to telling our swimmers to stay close together and swim in tight patterns around the pool,” Ingebrigtson said. “Now we’re telling them to stay three metres apart and we’re using all the space in the pool for the eight swimmers we’re allowed in there, instead of having multiple groups in the pool like we’re used to.”

The Pikes saw their 2019-20 season come to an end in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team is back in the water at Marion Aquatics once again, where they have been following the restrictions and protocols put in place by the province.

“It was obviously disappointing when everything came to a stop last year, especially for the girls as they were doing so well,” Ingebrigtson said. “There was a little bit of a challenge to manage and balance everything as we went back in the water to train this year, as there’s been a different mentality out there to what we’re used to with the rules that are now in place.

“Our athletes have been so resilient and they’ve had great support from their parents all year. Everyone has been very understanding of the changes that have gone with going back into the pool and being able to training again. It hasn’t been an easy year, but the way that everyone has made things easier for us makes them such a joy to work with.”

Although out-of-town meets aren’t taking place this year, 11 members of the Pikes program competed in the Marine Eistetter Training Meet, which was held virtually in November.

“It was totally different than what we’re used to,” Ingebrigtson said. “Instead of meeting up with hundreds of other swimmers at a pool for a meet, it was just us in our pool at Marion Aquatics, recording our skills and we sent the footage of our figures and land drills in to be judged on.”

After the Saskatchewan Artistic Swimming tabulated the results, five members of the team (Della Anderson, Leila Schmalz, Olivia Schlamp, Ana Rodea and Olivia Harris) received top ribbon honours for their results.

“That was great to see, especially with the amount of hard work they’ve all put in to achieve their goals,” Ingebrigtson said.

The Pikes are counting to practice for future virtual meets that are planned for this season, in addition to working toward their long-term goal, which is to take part in the 2022 Saskatchewan Winter Games in Regina.

“We’re taking things day-by-day here with this season when it comes to competitions, but we can continue to train on the fundamentals and get better that way with the extra training that we have,” Ingebrigtson said. “I think that will help us a lot in the long term, especially with the Winter Games on the horizon.”