Above: The swim team at Delhi District Secondary School.

Student-Initiated Swim Team Gives Classmate a Chance to Compete

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 15, 2023


t’s all about teamwork at Delhi District Secondary School. 
There are typically extra-curricular activities for every student to belong in secondary school. And if there’s a gap, DDSS students are demonstrating they will take the initiative to support each other. When classmates discovered student Kendra Hussey’s talent for swimming, inspiration took on a ripple effect. 

As pandemic restrictions eased, Kendra saw an opportunity to finally compete in the sport she loves. A talented competitive swimmer, she suggested DDSS revive the old team. As a start-up requirement, the school required at least five members to join. That’s when several students, including some who were learning how to swim themselves, stepped up to make Kendra’s dream a reality. 

Kendra shared: “I gathered a few of my peers that I knew also wanted to swim, and the journey began. Tyler Wood and Jacob Vankerrebroeck are two friends I grew up with. They heard that I needed four more people to make a team, so they very kindly joined without any swim team experience.”

Fast forward a few months, and the team’s taken on a number of competitions. After the entire team competed at Athletic Association of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk (AABHN), Kendra, Emma Howse and Josh Loncke qualified for Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA). These three students placed in the top fifty in all of Ontario, moving on to Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSSA) competition in Windsor.

Behind them every step of the way has been Guidance Counsellor, Valerie Couwenberg. 

Ms. Couwenberg devotes many hours of her personal time to arranging practices and transportation to students in the area, including those early morning trips to and from the pool.

“These students were an amazing group and helped me learn lots about competitive swimming,” says Couwenberg. “I am a former lifeguard and swim instructor but never swam competitively, so this was an entirely new learning experience for me. I’m so fortunate to be able to work with such a great group of students.”

From start to finish, this story embodies what it means to be a leader at Grand Erie. The inspiration, leadership and determination to create spaces of belonging reflects Grand Erie’s multi-year strategic plan and helps make Delhi District Secondary School a fantastic place to learn, lead and inspire.

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