Olympians, Paralympians inspire growth in swimming

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OTTAWA – Swimming Canada’s most recent registration numbers are on the rise as Canadians take to the pool to follow athletic endeavours and make swimming an essential lifetime skill.
 
As of December 2012, Swimming Canada’s registration numbers were at 45,255, a significant rise over 2011’s closing number of 39,752. Competitive numbers in 2012 were at 27,564, recreational at 10,301 and Masters at 3,439, all higher than 2011.

 
For Swimming Canada CEO Pierre Lafontaine the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a huge source of inspiration for Canadians.
 
“The strengths of the Olympic and Paralympic movements are that they can motivate people to pursue a healthy lifestyle,” said Lafontaine. “And the rise in our membership numbers displays not only the influence of our athletes’ performances but also the quality of our swimmers as individuals as well. So people want to be associated with swimming.”
 
Lafontaine says there are many reasons why swimming is a popular sport option for Canadians.
 
“It is a sport for life,” he said. “And it is a sport that can help Canada to be the most physically active country in the world. It is simple, it is family oriented and it is the sport that Canadians love to do in the summer.”
 
Swimming Canada has also promoted the importance for Canadians to take swimming lessons so that they can enjoy safe and happy experiences in the water. One of Swimming Canada’s ultimate goals is to help Canada become the first nation with zero drowning.
 
In its 2012 Drowning Report, the Lifesaving Society reported 347 preventable water-related deaths in Canada for 2011, a decline over the previous two years.
 
This will be a big year for Canadian swimming. The season got underway earlier this month with a successful Australian youth tour and some of those young swimmers will be in action again at FINA World Junior Championships August 26-31 in Dubai and the Canada Games July 4-9 in Sherbrooke, Que.
 
The international highlights for 2013 are the FINA World Aquatic Championships July 19-24 in Barcelona and the International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships August 11-18 in Montreal.

Following this past summer’s Paralympic Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee said just four per cent of Canadians with a disability play a sport, compared to about 33 per cent of able-bodied Canadians. Swimming Canada has one of the most successful Para sport programs in the world.
 
‘’We hope Canada’s Paralympic performance and the hosting of IPC Worlds in our backyard will inspire parents who have kids with a disability that swimming can be an option,’’ said Lafontaine. ‘’It can help their child build more confidence, make more friends and enjoy more life experiences. We certainly have the Paralympic stars to show that impact.’’

Other international events on tap for 2013 include the World University Games July 8-13 in Kazan, Russia. At home the Speedo Eastern and Western Canadian Championships are set for Feb. 14-17 in Montreal and Saskatoon, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships Feb. 21-23 in Calgary, the world championships trials April 3-6 in Victoria, Canada Cup events in Vancouver May 24-26 and Montreal June 28-30, the Summer Nationals July 17-20 in Pointe-Claire, Que., and the Age Group Nationals July 24-29 in Montreal.
 
While Swimming Canada’s 2012 membership numbers were excellent Lafontaine hopes the upswing will continue through the upcoming non-Olympic years.
 
‘’We need to double those numbers,’’ Lafontaine said. ‘’And we need our membership to stay in the sport for the long term.’’

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