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UP-AND-COMER – Thomas Gishler competes in the 2023 Yukon Invitational Swim Championships at the Whitehorse Lions Aquatic Centre in the Canada Games Centre (CGC). The Champs took place April 28-30.

Whitehorse Glacier Bears stoked for new swim season

The Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim club is stoked for the new swim season.

By Morris Prokop on November 17, 2023

The Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim club is stoked for the new swim season.

The first big event for the team is the Ryan Downing Memorial Invitational, which starts tonight at 5:30 and runs Saturday from 8:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Glacier Bears head coach Bronwyn Pasloski said swimmers from the Haines, Alaska club, the Dolphins, will be coming to the meet.

“It’s been a little bit since they’ve joined that swim meet. So that’s really exciting.

“And then after that our team will be traveling to Victoria for our favourite annual Christmas meet, which is the Christmas Cracker.”

The Christmas Cracker takes place Dec. 8-10.

After that the Christmas Time Trial takes place Dec. 16.

The Star asked Pasloski what their offseason was like.

“Our offseason, I hope, was really relaxing for all of our athletes, which was good. That was one of our longest offseasons that we had with the Canada Games Centre being closed for the pool renovations, which was very lovely that they got that done. So we were back into action early in October which is about three weeks later than we usually do.

“So for the athletes, they enjoyed their time off. I think we had a few individuals that went traveling and then just the start of school.”

Pasloski said she was busy doing a lot of planning and putting a lot of work into setting up for this year.

“We’re pretty excited and things are off to a really good start.”

Pasloski said there is a buzz of excitement around the club this season.

“I’m feeling so good. We are very excited. Not just myself, but our coaching staff and our kids, I think that walking onto the pool deck and being a part of practice this year, there’s a huge shift in energy and it’s really electric. I think there’s so much fun and so much positivity that’s really happening in every group.

“And what’s really exciting is the club has just moved into a different division under Swim B.C. It’s called the North and Interior division. We just got the confirmation yesterday. I stopped counting at 12 athletes qualifying, which is really incredible. So we’ll have a huge number of athletes qualifying to go down to divisional championships at the end of February, which is something we’re really looking forward to. So lots of motivated eager athletes coming in this year ready to race and meet their qualifying times.”

The divisionals take place in Penticton, B.C. Feb. 23-25.

Pasloski explained why the change is good for the club.

“It makes more sense for us to be with our northern and interior clubs, which really kind of speaks to where our club aligns in terms of size in comparison to other clubs. So it’s a really good fit for us and we’re really excited.

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity with more athletes traveling and more opportunities for not only just racing, but making finals and having second swims. So it’s all about fun, experience and really looking forward to getting our club part of that division.”

One marked difference between this year and last is that Pasloski has had more time to plan the season, whereas last year, she had a scant two weeks to makes plans when she stepped into the role. She said that “makes a world of a difference. When we finished our last season, we reached out to our members and our athletes and we asked them how things went and where could we improve and where our strengths were and we got some excellent feedback from everyone, and it was great to see that high level of participation. So things that really came out of there is how much our athletes love our coaches and striving to have, always incorporating fun and connection and those are some really big things that were lost over COVID.

“So I think last year was a bridge we could see in the first half of the year. It was a slow start and it was kind of hard and then after we got through Christmas and starting into the new year, we really saw a shift and a bigger spark kind of ignite within our athletes. So since then, I think we’ve really taken a lot of time, myself, the coaches and the board, to really implement some of the feedback that we’ve received.

“And one of the biggest ones for me was starting to find a new way to engage more ways to connect through community.

“So a lot more support and I think just awareness as well. We are really seeing a lot of the athletes just become aware of the different opportunities out there. I’m hearing how a lot of our younger athletes have the divisional times posted up on their wall so they can take a look at it at home before they come into the pool. So all good things that I love to hear and I can definitely see it in their effort in practice every day.”

Pasloski spoke about what she is looking forward to this season.

“I’m already seeing it really, it’s just been so much fun. It is easy for me. I love going to the pool every day and it is just not an ounce of effort on my end. Honestly. I love seeing how much fun everyone’s having and how much they’re really incorporating each other and seeing them progress in their potential.”

Pasloski has been spending more time working with the youngest group, the Teddy Bears.

“That’s been such a wonderful change in my role.

“But what I’m really looking forward to is seeing how much everyone is going to progress of course and as well as that just the different connections are going to come out of there, because that’s definitely my biggest priority, is creating more fun for all the athletes.”

As for up and coming swimmers, Pasloski mentioned a familiar face.

“Probably our biggest highlight is Thomas Gishler. He’s still training with us this year, although he finished high school this past summer. He just graduated. But we will be traveling to Montreal in May for Olympic trials. So that will be a great experience for him.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth. I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more of our younger athletes starting to make more divisional times, which I’m really excited for, but this year, I want to see if we can strive towards achieving more provincial times. And then next year we’ll continue to build off of that.”

Pasloski mentioned a young swimmer, Roy Oborne, 12, who comes in from Haines Junction to practice, as another potential up-and-comer.

“He’s just such a dedicated individual who really goes above and beyond, making sure that he’s making it to practice, given the circumstances of constantly traveling in every day he comes to the pool. So he is a shining star for us and works so hard.

“We’ll see as the year progresses, who else has the potential to stand out.”

Pasloski was asked who she thinks has the potential to surprise her, and maybe themselves.

“I have a group of young ladies who are in my Kodiak group and I think all of them actually have the potential to do that. So I have athletes Zoe Belz, Amelia Rainey, Rylan Steele, Aubree Henderson, as well as River Powell. Maya Poirier. Erin Delaurier. They are all exceptionally young ladies and I really think that they’re gonna really shine in the next year, for sure.”

There are a couple of events this season that stand out for her.

“Christmas Cracker is always a big event for us. It’s a time where we have got enough of our training in so we start to really see some best times up here. So we look forward to that to see a big shift in performance.

“But for me, I truly wait until our summer season to see the highlights and the results of a full season of training. One of the best that demonstrates that is a classic that we love going to called the Kamloops Wolfpack Invitational. It’s one that our athletes love and I do think that that is the one of the shining moments for the athletes because many of them surprise themselves in earning their divisionals or their provincials, or perhaps even higher times. So I look forward to that for sure, just to see who can really surprise themselves in achieving qualifying standards.”

The Kamloops Wolfpack Invitational takes place June 7-9, 2024.

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