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Making a Splash in YMM - The Fort McMurray Swim Club

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Before there was a competitive swim team, before there was even a swimming pool in Fort McMurray, there were forward thinking people with a desire to give children a safe and healthy way to play and grow and achieve. In the 1970 community of Fort McMurray there was a population of about 6,000 people with few organized outlets for sports and recreation; it was not difficult to find like-minded parents that wanted their children to have opportunities they would elsewhere. In 1970 the first community pool was being built; a 5 lane, 25 meter pool with a separate dive tank and in it a handful of these like-minded individuals created the Fort McMurray Swim Club, originally called the “Water Beetles”.

Fast forward 45 years of non-profit, hard work, high achievement swimming and volunteering, and children of those like-minded individuals are now fundraising, officiating, carpooling, chaperoning, volunteering and cheering on their own children in the pool.

The Centennial pool was home to the Fort McMurray Swim Club for forty years (minus the year the City closed it down for renovations and true to their commitment, dedication and resolve, the club carried on training and swimming out of the 13 meter pool in the bottom of Syncrude towers). For a time the club was known as the “Moochigan’s”, a native word meaning: “Those who work hard to have fun”. The volunteers worked hard, the swimmers worked hard and the club had fun, evolved, and grew. The Fort McMurray Swim Club was one of the first clubs in Ft McMurray to hire professional coaches to aid in the development of its athletes, and the club eventually became known as the “Mantas” around 1986.  

The Fort McMurray Swim Club volunteers are second to none and the club would not exist without them. From day one the entire operation has been run by volunteers and a volunteer executive elected by the membership. Originally, the coaches were volunteers too, however, as the caliber of the swimmers grew the executive saw the need for the coaching staff to evolve as well. The Fort McMurray Swim Club has been very successful in finding people hugely committed to the success of the athletes both in and out of the water, and in developing great kids into great adults.

The trend is set to continue. Effective August 15, 2015, NCCP Level 3 coach Brent Forsyth, formerly of Island Swimming in Victoria B.C., and who has decades of experience, will take over the lead role as head coach of the Mantas. In addition to the enthusiastic coaches up and coming through the ranks of the junior programs, he joins NCCP Level 3 coach Alex Godbeer, who brought up a team from bare bones to national rankings in Namibia, South Africa before her involvement here and NCCP Level 3 coach Andro Iordanishvili, who previously coached and swam for numerous years on the Georgian National Swim Team.

In 2010 the Centennial Pool shut its doors but the window that opened for the Fort McMurray Swim Club was opened wide to opportunity – the swimmers now train out of one of Canada’s premier sports facilities, Fort McMurray’s own world class aquatic center at MacDonald Island Park. The Fort McMurray Mantas are poised to step high onto some future podiums; swimmers have Fort McMurray spirit in their veins, top notch coaching staff behind them, a world class training facility, and phenomenal support from parents, volunteers and sponsors in this fabulous community.

What 45 years has shown is that what they can accomplish in the pool is just the tip of the iceberg. Swimmers learn so much more than just how to swim fast; they develop skills in leadership, time management, character, discipline, strength… all mixed in with fun and friends and the bonds of a common goal; to do their best. For many, these skills transfer to other aspects of their lives; they become lifelong habits and set the foundation for distinctive individuals.

From kids splashing in the puddles before there was a pool, to the Olympic stage (FMSC alumni swimmers Jennifer Button and Mark Versfeld swam in the 2000 Sydney Olympics), the Fort McMurray Swim Club has come a long way. A new season starts September 1st; registration is open, the water beckons and the Mantas will be on the blocks.  


Take your mark. Make a splash. Be a Manta. Contact us today for your free intake assessment! For more information visit:


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See the article “Fort McMurray’s Child is a Swimmer” in the most recent issue of Fort McMurray’s Child magazine for more information about getting involved in competitive swimming.