More than 70 of Airdrie’s young swimmers will make a splash Feb. 27 to 29 at the Nose Creek Swim Association’s (NCSA) 23rd annual John Timmermans Memorial Invitational.
Held at the Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary, the competitive meet will feature roughly 250 swimmers from Airdrie, Calgary, Olds and Okotoks; ranging in age from eight to 17.
“We always look forward to this meet,” said Alexx Diep, a coach with the Airdrie-based NCSA. “It’s a longstanding tradition, so we look forward to honouring John Timmermans, who was a big part of our club back in the day.”
Timmermans, who passed away in 1996, was a longtime friend and supporter of Airdrie’s swimming community.
“It’s nice for us to have that moment to reunite with what he did for us, and have this meet in his honour,” Diep said.
In addition to memorializing Timmermans, the meet acts as the final competition of the short-course season for NCSA athletes, making it the last chance for swimmers to qualify for Swim Alberta’s Short Course Provincials – held March 13 to 15 at Repsol.
“For that reason, the stakes are a little bit higher at this meet,” Diep said.
“You’ll have some swimmers who are super excited because they know they’ll do well and qualify for provincials, and then you’ll have swimmers who are hoping to make the provincial standard, though they’re not sure if they will.”
Preliminary races run in the mornings, while finals – featuring the eight fastest swimmers from each age group and discipline – take place in the evenings.
Diep said offering prelims and finals adds to the excitement and motivates athletes to be at their best.
“In the morning, you may not be swimming in a heat against very strong contenders, but in the finals, you know everyone in your heat will be very strong,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for any swimmer to step up their game and gives them an extra push to go a little bit faster.”
Diep said it’s been a positive winter for NCSA’s athletes, who mostly hail from either Airdrie or north Calgary. Season highlights, he added, included hosting the NCSA Fall Invitational in November 2019, along with sending a large cohort of swimmers to Winnipeg, Man., that December to compete at the Prairie Winter International Swim Meet.
“So far, we’re on track to do really well and at least match our numbers from last year at provincials,” he said. “We usually send 30-plus swimmers to provincials and we’re on track to match that again.”