Congratulations to the Innisfail Dolphins Swim Club for being the recipients of the 2021 Team of the Year Award!
The Innisfail Dolphins are a competitive swim club that has provided youth in the community an opportunity for personal development through sport since 1947. They are an incredible example of a team that has been built up year after year and have persevered through an especially difficult time with the COVID-19 pandemic making training and competing difficult. Accepting this award on behalf of the Dolphins is their head coach, Josh Gette.
The Dolphins have emerged as a premier competitive club in the province, with local swimmers and swimmers travelling from Red Deer, Olds, and Sundre to train and compete with the club in the Alberta Summer Swim Association. The Dolphins have ranked as one of the top 5 clubs in the province for years; in 2019 (The last year prior to COVID-19 restrictions) the club won the Central Alberta Regionals for the first time in the club’s history and finished 4th in the province. In 2021, the Dolphins ranked 1st provincially (Provincial Champions), an amazing achievement as the Club was able to best Edmonton, Calgary and all other Alberta clubs despite being allowed less registered swimmers due to restrictions.
In 2021, the Dolphins shattered club records, breaking 10 club records. Individually, the Dolphins experienced success in 2021, with 24 of the registered 50 swimmers (Aged 7-17) ranking in the top 5 in the province in a stroke (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle). 8 swimmers also ranked 1st in the province for their age (Paige Dunbar, Aubry Haldorson, Kenzie Hickman, Ryan Lien, Ryan Falk, Edson Mburgu, Mason Hickman, and Jacob Mydland) with another 5 swimmers ranking top 3 for their age.
The Dolphins performance at Swim Meets in 2021 was an impressive exhibition. In swim meets, swimmers are put in heats based on times (With faster swimmers going into the final heat of 6-8 swimmers); in 2021, Dolphins swimmers repeatedly filled entire final heats. In 2021, the Dolphins were only able to attend three swim meets, a regional meet and a virtual ASSA Summer Challenge (which served as provincials in this restricted season). The Dolphin Swim club won 2 of the three meets while winning the regional meet and ASSA Summer Challenge.
Another important aspect to note with the Dolphins is the sportsmanship their athletes show to their competitors and other clubs during competition. A nominator noted that officials, other coaches, and parents often comment on the positive attitude, optimism, hard work, focus, and passion Dolphins’ athletes show every year at competitions. It is thought that this environment is created at practice, where despite swimming being an individual sport, an atmosphere of support has been created. This started by where older swimmers mentor younger swimmers. During practice events like Senior Swimmer Coach Day (Senior Swimmers aged 14-17 volunteer to come to practice early and coach 1-2 swimmers for the day at a series of stations), the Dolphins reinforce a positive team environment where their oldest swimmer knows their youngest swimmer despite over a decade of age difference between them. The environment of the Dolphins has all ages encouraging and cheering each other on.