The Cochrane Water Ninjas are the new national pool lifesaving champions after a stellar performance in Fort. McMurray over the weekend.

The team took 25 athletes to the 2022 National Pool Lifesaving Championships and every single athlete got to celebrate in a gold medal ceremony.

For the majority of the swimmers, racing preliminaries in the morning and then turning around and racing finals in the afternoon was brand new, says Head Coach Marlee Palmer. She says each athlete played an instrumental role in the victory.

"Most of the athletes raced 16 to 18 times over two days (four sessions) where they put their endurance and stamina to the test," she says.

"They were really fun races," says assistant coach Matt Johnson. "Everyone of our athletes performed extremely well at a high level and it was nice to see. It was amazing."

"It's a bonus that we did so well that we were ranked first, but that is secondary to how well the athletes performed. It certainly wasn't our primary objective to go win the top nationals, but, hey, we'll take it."

He says there were close races throughout the event, and a Drayton Valley team proved to be their closest rival.

"Every single ounce and breath put into swimming definitely helped. There was very tight competition."

Becoming national champions illustrates how the club has blossomed over the years. In 2019, they sent four athletes to Markham, ON for the nationals.

The Water Ninjas are knocking on the door of having 100 members and have continued to grow each season. They've been training hard since September and are closing their season on a high note.

The national championship follows their double win at April's provincial championship.

Top 3 place finishes:

200 Obstacle Swim: Jonathon Roth, 3rd, men's open; Marlee Palmer, 3rd, women's open. 

4x50 Obstacle Relay:

Women’s 15-18: 2nd, Danielle Billings, Eli Swedlo, April Bushrod, and Hannah Billings

Men’s 15-18: 1st, Clark Anton, Aaron Swedlo, Brock Gilbert, and Max Kruger

Line Throw: 

Women’s 15-18: 3rd, Danielle Billings and Alana Martens

Men’s 15-18: 3rd, CJ Washburn and Max Kruger

Men’s Open: 1st, Matt Johnston and Tony Moores

100m Rescue Medley

Women’s Open: 1st, Marlee Palmer

Men’s Open: 2nd: Matt Johnston

100m Tow with Fins

Men’s 15-18: 3rd, Jack Dunse

100m Carry with Fins

Women’s 15-18: 2nd, Eli Swedlo

Women’s 15-18: 3rd, Alana Martens

200m Superlifesaver

Women’s Open: 1st, Marlee Palmer

4x25m Manikin Carry Relay

Women’s 15-18: 2nd, Danielle Billings, Olivia Bodnar, Heidi Moores, and Hannah Billings

Women’s Open: 2nd place, Marlee Palmer, Allyson Billings, Amy Swedlo, and Melanie Martin-Quevillon

Men’s 15-18: 1, Clark Anton, Chase Yorke, Jack Dunse, and Brock Gilbert

Men’s 15-18: 3, CJ Washburn, Max Kruger, Owen Rose, and Aaron Swedlo

Men’s Open: 3rd, Tony Moores, Alex Fisher, Ian Kruger, Brad Gilbert

50m Manikin Carry

Women’s Open: 3rd, Marlee Palmer

Men’s Open: 2nd, Matt Johnston

4x50 Medley Relay

Women’s 15-18: 2nd, Eli Swedlo, April Bushrod, Heidi Moores, and Alana Martens

Men’s 15-18: 2, Chase Yorke, Owen Rose, Max Kruger, and CJ Washburn