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Young Aquatic Club

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That seems to be the resounding theme when talking to those involved with the Young Aquatic Club (YAC).

Spencer Dow, 17, has spent time swimming with other clubs, but prefers his hometown club because of how close the members and coaches are.

“It’s like family,” says Dow, a competitive swimmer who has medalled in the past. “I can go into the pool and I know everybody and everybody knows me. Everybody is looking out for each other and everybody is supportive.”

He said that atmosphere really makes a big difference to the younger kids.

“You can just see it in how they react when the older kids interact with them. It makes swimming much more enjoyable for them.

“It’s been a great experience. I’ll never forget it.”

This is Spencer’s last year with the club as he is off to university, where he does plan to continue swimming.

He chuckles “It gets to the point that swimming is your lifestyle.

“You wake up every day and you know it’s time to swim. You wouldn’t know what to do otherwise.”

He adds that he joined the club because its founder, Carla Young, had been his coach when he was really young. “I always thought Carla was a great coach. She always has the best interests of the swimmers in mind.”

Young says the club is a high-energy group of kids that are very close and very competitive.

“They are very supportive of each other inside the pool and outside which makes for a great atmosphere when they come to the pool to train. They love team cheers and making up new ones.”

While she says the coaches love to work the kids hard so they get good results and the parents are also satisfied with the results and skills development, there is also time for fun.

The one fun day requested most often from the morning swimmers is their skills challenge on Fridays. Most are under the age of 10 and the number one thing these kids want is to hang with friends in the pool and have fun.

There are also events outside the pool, including Kick Off Camp for the competitive kids in September when other clubs come up to join in for fun and a barbeque at Vista Ridge Adventure Park, team tubing and a Christmas gathering with a Secret Santa gift exchange and gingerbread decorating contest.

She calls her coaching team “amazing,” adding all are registered and trained through NCCP with either their Community Coach, Swim 101 and Swim 201. The Head Coach is Level Three certified.

Up until last season, Young was one of two female coaches in the province with Level Three Certification complete.

“We are looking next season to expand our coaching team to add some more diversity and experience,” said Young.

As one of the longest-serving coaches with the club, Sarah Arner’s career has always been in aquatics, whether life-guarding, instructing or fitness. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the families and children in the community in a sport that she has surrounded herself in for some 20 years.

“I have really enjoyed coaching over the last few years; being able to apply my knowledge of swimming with the Swim Canada competitive techniques that turn the hard-working kids into athletes.

Arner’s passion is fitness and being able to share her experience with them, to guide them to be the best they can be; teaching them how to be confident, strong and healthy...and to have fun and make friends while doing it.

“When I see them growing into young adults with a passion for swimming and fitness, it makes it all worth it.”

Nancy King’s two daughters, Stephanie, 15, and Elizabeth, 13, have been swimming in the club’s fitness program for over three years.

Stephanie is also in the para-swim program, a new offering for the 2016-17 season for young swimmers with special needs. This is not a learning-to-swim program; the participants have swim knowledge and skills. 

“Swimming lessons weren’t providing what we needed and I didn’t want them in a competitive program,” explains King on the initial attraction to the club. “I wanted them in a program that was going to fit their needs and grow with them.”

She acknowledges her daughters have benefitted from the club, with greater confidence and lifelong friendships.

“They’ve got a sense of belonging. It’s just like a family.”

For Stephanie, it’s also filled the void as she no longer has sensory programming elsewhere.

“I just love that they’re all inclusive and that they love our kids as if they were their own.”

Young founded the club in May 2012. While YAC bears her last name, she notes it’s not only for the young or youth. Currently, the club’s oldest member is 25, and the youngest is four-years-old.

“The club is developing into what I have hoped for and more, offering an opportunity for everyone in the family to enjoy swimming and also excel in it,” says Young.

She describes herself as having a strong passion and commitment for swimming and always has.

“I have been involved in swim all my life. I started volunteering at age 13, teaching swim lessons and it worked into so many aquatic opportunities, including being able to develop and start my own coach-run club.”

Programming typically runs October to May. Registration for the season starts June 1 and the fitness programs fill up very quickly.

The club offers a variety of competitive and noncompetitive programs for various age groups. Two new additions this year are the Masters Swim for adults who love to swim and want to get a great workout in before work, and the Sunrise Swim for youth that love to swim and want to get in a workout before school and keep up on their swimming strengths.

Cost varies depending on the program offered with the Fitness, Para, Masters, Sunrise Swim groups being the lowest and higher for the competitive swim programs.


For more information, check out the club’s Facebook page at


If someone is interested in joining or setting up an evaluation, contact Young at or by leaving a message at 780-880-5058 on the club phone.

Young can offer those interested in joining a trial period to come give it a try for one week before making a decision.

“The fact that we run our programs for eight months makes it convenient for parents to know that their child has a swim spot for the whole year.”

Those looking for competitive swimming should note the club has a large number of provincial, championship and national level athletes. For July’s Canadian Junior Championships in Toronto, it is on target for having four to five swimmers from its competitive program attend. It also has one swimmer on the North American Indigenous Team, which has 4,000 participants. Young is the Team Alberta Head Coach for this event that falls the week before the Canadian Junior Championships.

In the 2014-15 swim season, YAC won the Small Team Provincial Championship award for the largest amounts of points for the provincial meet.


One of those people who arrived in Fort McMurray for a short time – six months - but eight years later is still here. Love this place, the people, the outdoor escapades and the incredible heart of the community. Work hard, volunteer lots and would rather sit and chat with someone than do housework. Passport always at the ready to jet off to some wonderful global locale. So much to see and do.