Justin Daly: We are Spartans
There is a board that hangs in the lobby of the Landing Leisure Centre.
On it are names and times, a list of the best male swimmers in Chilliwack Spartan Swim Club history.
Justin Daly is on that board as the owner of the all-time top times in the 11-12 and 13-14 year old boys short and long track 100 and 200m breaststrokes.
A decade and a half after he set those marks, they still stand.
“There were a lot of very successful swimmers who came through the Spartans program, and I’m happy to have my name up there with them,” said the now 30-year-old UFV kinesology grad. “But when I look at that board now, I judge my success on whether I can get my name off of there.”
For the last four years Daly has been the head coach of the Spartans. Before that he was an assistant under Vince Mikuska.
Daly rises at 4 a.m. each morning and you’ll find him at the pool from 5 to 7 a.m.
He’s back again most afternoons, investing so much time because he remembers how valuable swimming was for him.
He learned time management by juggling the demands of school with the demands of the Spartans.
He learned how to deal with success and failure.
“When you’re in this for 10 years, you’re going to have your highs and lows, but you’d like to think that these kids can take some of the things they learned here and apply it to the rest of their life,” Daly said.
Swimming is a sport in which the devil is in the details. Margins of victory are measured in split seconds.
Another lesson Daly imparts to his youthful charges is goal setting.
“To quote (Vancouver Canucks coach) Alain Vigneault, it’s all about the process,” Daly explained. “Sometimes they’re disappointed, but when we set goals and stick with the process, it’s easier to find positives.”
Daly has his top level swimmers and he takes pride in what they accomplish. But his biggest reward comes from small victories.
“I’m happiest when the kids are happy about making finals or setting a new personal best,” he said. “I want all the kids to be happy, and I hope we’re setting them up to go on and do the best they can do in sports, school or whatever they want to do.”