Only one club in Ontario can boast about having the best facility in the Province and Brant Artistic Swimming Club (BASC) can. Not only is the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre an incredible facility in general, its 65m pool has allowed the athletes of BASC to maintain training regimens that are almost comparable to those pre-COVID. Formerly known as synchronized swimming, the sport adopted the name artistic swimming in 2017. While artistic swimming is a team sport, many people don’t realize that a substantial amount of training is done individually, and out of the pool. That said, with eight 65m lanes, athletes have been able to continue to train the majority of their two to fifteen hours per week since the pool re-opened in the summer, while keeping ample social distance. Since returning to the pool, things have definitely changed, but athletes’ and coaches’ spirits remain undaunted.
Despite the large facility, BASC is a small program and in true Brantford style, community and inclusivity are core values at the club. Head Coach Julia Wheeler, prides herself in creating an environment where athletes are welcomed for who they are, alongside the rest of her coaching staff. BASC welcomes athletes like Caeley Samis, currently in her tenth year with the club, who have special abilities, integrating these athletes in both training and competition. This inviting environment has drawn several athletes from outside the region to the club during COVID, as well.
While the club currently does not have a national team, many athletes like Ella Giggs, Claire Scheffel, Julia Link and Marissa Wheeler, have taken the skills and roots that they grew at BASC on to represent Ontario and Canada at a national level.
BASC has several programs that range in ability and age. For young swimmers with interest in the sport, ‘Try Syncho’ is an excellent eight week introduction session that runs three times a year and is open to all ages. As a swimmer’s skill develops, there is opportunity to advance to more challenging programs where athletes have the chance to compete as a team against other clubs throughout Ontario. A competitive season in artistic swimming typically runs throughout most of the year, with athletes beginning their training in August and finishing their last competition in May or June.
With over 45 years of history in Brantford, BASC has shown its dedication to its athletes and community by quickly pivoting to workouts that can be done individually, from home and over video calls. Their dedicated team of coaches have worked tirelessly to keep athletes healthy both physically and mentally during restrictions and lockdowns. Connie Martin, President of BASC, shared that Ontario Artistic Swimming has found ways for athletes to continue to engage in competition via Zoom calls, testing athletes on their strength, endurance and flexibility. These athletes are looking forward to participating in their first competition of the season this coming weekend. Although the sparkly swim suits were retired this year, athletes are still able to participate and engage with the sport and community that they love.
Although this is not the year for hosting, BASC has proudly hosted competitions at Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre and is looking forward to winning another bid again sometime in the future.
For all the latest information about the Brant Artistic Swimming Club, check them out on their Facebook and Instagram pages.