So you think you can swim …

Susan Flanagan
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Do you have what it takes to get out of bed before sunrise to swim a few kilometres before breakfast? Even in the winter when mornings are unforgiving and you have to shovel yourself out of the driveway?

Does the idea of doing underwater flip turns without surfacing to breathe turn you on? A quick blow of water out the snorkel and away you go for another length.

Can you make it from one end of the 50-metre pool to the other underwater doing only dolphin kick? Are you willing to leave that Friday night party early because you have to be on deck by 6 the next morning?

If so, Legends swimming is for you.

Several mornings a week, hundreds of school children across the province dive in for a two-hour workout with their local swim clubs. On weekdays after the workout, they prance off to school only to turn around as soon as classes are out and do it all again.

Here in St. John’s, No. 4 is one of them.

How life has changed.

Two years ago when we had four children playing rec hockey, my husband and I were like two Zambonis passing on the ice. Now we’re down to one goalie in Midget and we don’t have to spend multiple frigid hours on Saturdays and Sundays dressed like we’re heading to the pole with Capt. Bob.

Gone are the days of bringing breastfed infants to out-of-town meets. Gone are the floor-to-rafter stinky hockey bags in the laundry room (Right now there are only three). Gone are the cheering-induced bouts of laryngitis. Gone is the post-Easter euphoria, not because Lent was over and I could finally consume chocolate, but rather because hockey season was winding down and I might finally find a moment for myself.

That’s all because two boys take themselves to the rink and our precious girl — God bless her heart — switched to swimming, which offers a much warmer venue for spectators.

Like most sports, swimming can drain the pocketbook if you’re not careful. That’s why our precious girl has been fundraising like a maniac for her upcoming Deer Lake meet and her Swim for Hope fundraiser. She’s earned more than $150 on her bottle drive.

And like many other organizations, Swimming NL has to come up with creative ways of keeping fundraising fresh. Heart and Stroke has the Red Dress Gala, Clovelly Stables has its Kentucky Derby on May 4. Gonzaga High School just had its Death by Chocolate. Rennies River has its rubber ducks and Manuels River has its bobbers. Some organizations bring fundraising to a new level and force sponsors to get off the couch and do something: East Coast Trail Take a Hike Day in June; Shave for the Brave in March; and Swimming NL’s Swim for Hope on March 8.

From 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Friday, March 8, children as young as seven will swim laps in the Aquarena pool to raise money for both Legends Swim Club and the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre.

“All moneys raised are shared 50/50 between swim clubs and the Cancer Centre,” says Maria Delahunty-O’Brien, co-ordinator for Swim for Hope 2013.

“The Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre will use the funds for the Cancer Care Foundation’s Patient and Family Support Fund (PFSF), which was established in 2003 to assist cancer patients and their families who experience financial distress as a result of their cancer diagnosis,” explains Delahunty.  

“Many patients across the province have to travel to receive chemotherapy and/or radiation; incurring significant expenses to live away from their homes and/or commute daily. The PFSF is there to assist patients and their families with these costs. Between 2008-2011, a total of 1,830 patients and families received almost $400,000.”

“Last year, the Swim for Hope raised over $106,000 provincially,” says Delahunty, who has two young boys in pre-competitive swimming. And she explains that it’s not just the Swimming NL club members who get to spend Friday night swimming laps at the pool.

Swim for Hope wants you, the public, to jump in and get wet, too.

“Different community groups actually swim laps in the SFH challenge as well,” she says. “They get sponsors (in the way of pledges) as do our swimmers. … This year our local paramedics put a challenge out to local firefighters and police to see who can gather the most pledges.”

So, if you’re so inclined, you can don your water wings and take your turn swimming 25-metre laps between

6 and 8 p.m. when the Aquarena is open to community competitors.  

So, back to the question: do you have what it takes to swim?

You don’t have to swim fast, nor a minimum distance. But if the swim club members can swim in a relay for nine hours (12 in other parts of the province), then we can, hopefully, swim a lap or two.

If you’re like a cat and don’t favour getting wet, that’s OK, too. You can still participate by sponsoring a swimmer, donating a motivational prize or coming to the Aquarena or one of the other pools around the province on the evening of March 8 to cheer on participants.

This year, besides the St. John’s Legends, 11 other swim clubs in Newfoundland and Labrador will participate in the Swim for Hope on the same night: Mount Pearl Marlins, C.B.S. Bluefins, Corner Brook Rapids, Deer Lake Dolphins, Gander Lakers, Melville Mantas, Northern Lights of Wabush/Lab City, Port aux Basques Piranhas, Poseidon Swim Club of Carbonear, Rocky Island Masters Swim Club and Stephenville Aqua Aces. For more information on the Swim for Hope, go to or email Maria at

Susan Flanagan is a writer whose daughter, after 1 1/2 years with Legends, can swim

roughly twice as fast as her. She can be

reached at

Dementia feedback

Mom (not Susan’s mother) writes: “Many families are making the decision to put their loved ones in a home. There comes a time in our society when this is the right decision for many. I would love to see more people be able to stay in their own homes. I watched an online video called ‘Dementia: pioneering city of Bruges’ which shows one city’s way of dealing with the early stages of dementia. As more is learned about dementia, more people are realizing the importance of keeping loved ones in familiar surroundings if at all possible. It is important for family members to receive counselling to help deal with the changes to their loved one.”

Doreen Stone writes: “I read your article every week and have to state strongly how much this article bothers me. … This is your solution to caring for elderly, frail and parents with Alzheimer’s. … I would call this elder abuse. I have lived this situation and thankfully it is over except for the mental anguish that will never completely leave me. I could write a book about my experience with trying to get the right care for my mom, and if you are interested could share some with you … but hooking up a camera and hoping to be notified 20 minutes after a problem is detected wasn’t one of them.”

Cabin feedback

Enlightened Bayman writes: “I thought the author’s description was excellent. You only need to track the traffic out the TCH from St. John’s every weekend, even Thursday/Friday during the winter months and almost all summer, to recognize that all creatures in N.L. aspire to go to the great outdoors whenever possible. Regardless of the time/place/weather. So is it surprising her husband would be attracted to a scenic setting outside of the ‘executive ghetto’ of St. John’s, Mount Pearl, C.B.S., Torbay, or any other greater St. John’s area? I think not! The author is very correct that we, men, would prefer, at any time, to work on some project such as the cabin in Hants Harbour or elsewhere, or on a TV installation in the shed, as opposed to do the

same work on one’s house in any community/town/city. Maybe we haven’t evolved so much from the cave as our ancestors, especially if we are provided the opportunity to go there. Get real guys! The author and the sisterhood have figured us out! Surprised!”

Gerard writes: “I read with interest your story of the ‘cabin.’ …  I note you spoke about a vintage beige Hillcrest stove. I am assuming it may be the same as the one I have. It would have two warmers on the top, 6 dampers. I am interested to know … any history of these stoves, manufacturer, foundry, etc.  I have one I purchased some 35 years ago from the original owner and he had it wrapped in oil-soaked brim sacks and stored in his shed when I purchased same. I used it initially; though I then moved away for some 30 years and … stored it. Only recently I returned to N.L. to live and now am preparing to take it out of storage and restore (if any restoration is needed) and put it to use. Thus I am interested to find out any/all info about these stoves that I might. Thank you for any info/insight you may be able to provide.”

Susan’s note: Please send any details to

Organizations: Swim for Hope 2013, PFSF, Gonzaga High School Legends Swim Club Cancer Care Foundation Family Support Fund Poseidon Swim Club of Carbonear Rocky Island Masters Swim Club

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Midget, Rennies River Manuels River Newfoundland and Labrador Lab Bruges Mount Pearl Torbay Hants Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Carol Ann MacDonald
    February 26, 2013 - 07:10

    I am glad to see that someone is recognizing swimming. There is never any coverage of swimming on the sports page. The kids go to swim meets here and there and no talk of it. Thanks