Canadian’s West Kelowna Liquid Lightning Swim Club has suspended its operations and joined another area club, the Kelowna Aqua Jets.
The club announced the move in a press release this week, though the news came out in late July. The club had been a Kelowna institution for 23 years, but cited Swimming Canada’s increased focus on long course racing and the need for long course training facilities as one reason for the move.
The club officially put its activity on hold for three years, and rolled all of its current swimmers into the Kelowna Aqua Jets beginning September of 2017.
The Liquid Lightning club has produced a number of well-known Canadian athletes, including Olympic breaststroker Kierra Smith. (Note: Kierra is also a SwimSwam contributor)
You can read the club’s full press release below:
After a successful 23-years in West Kelowna, the membership of the West Kelowna Liquid Lighting Swim Club had to make a difficult decision, that of putting LLSC on hold and joining the KAJ. In July of 2016, Swimming Canada introduced and began to implement its new competitive structure. This structure has increased the importance and length of the long course (50m) season and by default decreased the importance of the short course (25m) season. In order for our LLSC West Kelowna swimmers to remain competitive on a provincial, national and international level, they require long course qualifying times and need to be training in a 50m pool. Despite efforts from H20 and KAJ, it has been increasingly difficult over the years for LLSC swimmers to access and train at H20 utilizing the only 50m pool in the Central Okanagan.
In January of 2017, the LLSC Board of Directors begun to explore the options available for LLSC to remain viable in West Kelowna. ‘We looked at every feasible option and after months of conversations, the answer was imminent”, said Susan Toyata, president of LLSC. As of June 11, at a special meeting, the membership voted in majority to join the Kelowna Aqua Jets. The Liquid Lightning Swim Club Association will be put on hold for a period of 3-years and all swimmers in the West Kelowna, Westbank and Peachland region will register and swim with the Kelowna Aqua Jets as of September 2017.
Very little will change for the swimmers regarding schedules, coaches and training programs; other than our West Kelowna, Westbank and Peachland swimmers will now be representing the Kelowna Aqua Jets. This transition will increase the KAJ membership to just over 300 swimmers, with programs running in 3-pools, including: H20, YMCA and JBMAC.
“It is difficult to see the end of LLSC.” said Emil Dimitrov, head coach of both LLSC and KAJ. “I moved to West Kelowna 9-years ago with my two sons and late wife Eli to coach LLSC and I have loved every minute of it.” Dimitrov has brought LLSC to be both a nationally and internationally recognized swim club and has helped produce Olympian, Kierra Smith who represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympic games last summer placing 7th in the 200m Breast stroke event.
“LLSC has been vibrant in our community for the past 23 years, but circumstances beyond our control have forced this difficult decision to be made,” said Dimitrov. The effects however impact not only our current swimmers, but also our past LLSC swimmers and the community at large. West Kelowna will no longer have a swim club to call its own. To add to this, swimming and other aquatic sports continue to be more and more popular for both our younger and older generations and the demand for pool time will only continue to increase.
The Liquid Lightning Swim Club is a program that encourages the achievement of personal and team goals in competitive swimming through training and competition. The Club fosters an environment where all swimmers, regardless of ability, will learn the fundamentals of the sport of swimming that can take them to a regional, provincial, national and international swim meets. < We are a not-for-profit club that is run by its elected Board of Directors who meet monthly. All members are welcome and encouraged to be involved in team activities and fundraisers.