Fresh off of celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2018, the Thompson Northern Torpedoes (TNT) Swim Club is preparing to host their annual meet Jan. 26 at the Norplex Pool, which will feature athletes from Flin Flon and The Pas.
“I’m expecting probably around 55 to 60 swimmers, total,” said TNT head coach Luke Deibert. “It’s a good little meet for us and it’s a springboard for the first level of provincial competition called junior provincials, which will be held in Brandon on Feb. 22 and 24.”
Deibert went on to say that a number of his athletes are right on the edge of qualifying for this provincial meet, and Saturday’s competition could be a sneak preview of things to come.
“Beyond that, we’re all about mastery of skill,” he said. “So if we can get between 75 and 90 per cent improvement in speed and best times I’m quite happy with that.”
In his last four years as the head coach for TNT, Deibert said the club’s membership usually hovers around 30 to 50 swimmers, ranging in age from six to 20 years old.
While TNT doesn’t have anybody that can compete nationally right now, Deibert said several of his athletes still have the capacity to achieve at this level.
TNT athletes even got a glimpse of what this kind of competition looks like during the Manitoba Winter Games in Thompson last March, where they helped their fellow northern swimmers win a handful of medals in team events.
“If we have somebody that shows the talent and if they want to go far, they can from here. We have that wherewithal.”
Additionally, Deibert mentioned that TNT has produced a number of top-tier athletes since the club was established back in 1978. This list of professional swimmers includes Kimberly Moors and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame inductee Shannon Shakespeare, the latter of whom competed in two consecutive Olympic Summer Games in 1996 and 2000.
Even with this kind of pedigree in mind, Deibert maintains that TNT is still very inclusive and won’t bar inexperienced swimmers from entry.
“We’ll pretty much accept anybody that comes out, even if they don’t have formal lessons,” he said. “As long as they can swim a length on their front in the main pool and a length on their back, we can teach them the rest.”
Saturday’s invitational swim meet is scheduled to take place at the Norplex Pool from roughly 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To learn more about the TNT Swim Club, please visit their Facebook page.