Nanaimo White Rapids Div. 1 swimmer Lilika Kovacs practises her butterfly Tuesday at Kin Pool. She will be racing her first 100-metre individual medley at the White Rapids Invitational Meet this weekend (July 1-3).

Nanaimo White Rapids Div. 1 swimmer Lilika Kovacs practises her butterfly Tuesday at Kin Pool. She will be racing her first 100-metre individual medley at the White Rapids Invitational Meet this weekend (July 1-3).

White Rapids plan to pack the pool this weekend

The annual Nanaimo White Rapids Invitational is Friday through Sunday (July 1-3) at Kin Pool at Bowen Park.

The Nanaimo White Rapids, celebrating their 50th-anniversary season, know how to put on a swim meet by now.

They’ll host a big one this weekend, as the annual White Rapids Invitational is Friday through Sunday (July 1-3). Close to 500 athletes are expected at Kin Pool, said Rapids co-coach Byron Trajan, including 150 from the local club.

It’s been a really good season so far, he said, and now it’s time to “ratchet it up a little bit with the excitement…

“This meet, probably more than any other meet, has that energy, that outdoor-summer-swim-club feel to it.”

Aside from championship meets, this weekend’s event is the focal point of the season for the White Rapids, Trajan said. Clubs from up and down Vancouver Island will be coming, as well as three out-of-region entries from the Lower Mainland. The competition ranges from five-year-olds to high-level college varsity swimmers, and there will be some fast times.

“Nanaimo has over 40 athletes competing who have achieved top-10 provincial rankings, and with the high level of the visiting teams, the weekend promises to be exceptionally fast and entertaining,” notes a club press release.

Trajan said the White Rapids want to “sort of keep the pedal down” at this stage of mid-season before the athletes start to taper toward championship season.

“We’re looking for best times; we’re looking for big swims this weekend,” he said.

With hundreds of parents and supporters poolside, it will make for a charged atmosphere and some home-pool advantage for the Rapids.

“It’s a huge difference. It’s hard to calculate what that difference is, but it’s definitely there,” Trajan said. “It’s a sense that you’re swimming with the team and not just as an individual.”

That’s reinforced by the team spirit on the pool deck.

“There’s lots of back-and-forth with the team cheers between different clubs,” Trajan said.

The weekend’s activities will get underway Friday at 9 a.m. with the first-ever Canada Day Crawl, a one-kilometre swim in Westwood Lake. That event has a registration fee of $20 on race day, or $15 in advance at www.viendurance.net/canada-day-crawl/.

Admission to watch the White Rapids Invitational swim meet is free and spectators are encouraged. There will be an improved concession this year. Action starts at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, 8:15 a.m. on Saturday and 9:05 a.m. on Sunday.

“Public are welcome to attend this family-friendly event, and with a concession, silent auction, and other Canada Day activities at the park as well as the competition itself, this meet will have entertainment for everyone,” the club noted.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com