From the Centre: New Creston aquatic programmer brings knowledge from world travels

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Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

You may have seen a new face as you round the corner and head towards the swimming pool change rooms up here at the community complex. We would like to introduce our new aquatic programmer Lisa Dear as she embarks on her quest, not unlike Frodo and the Ring, to learn the intricacies of this particular aquatic facility in a short period of time. OK, it’s nothing like that comparison but there is certainly a lot to learn as we embark on an adventure of epic proportions. Well, OK maybe not epic, but certainly exciting.

Lisa has arrived on scene as we bid a fond adieu to Brooke Cherfils, who was with us throughout the design, construction and “how are we going to run this aquatic centre” phase as part of the team creating strategies, scheduling and all the policies and procedures from the ground up, which got us to where we are today. Brooke will remain in the industry as she starts work with the Lifesaving Society of BC, the non-profit organization whose mandate is to prevent water-related death and injury through training and education, not to mention setting the standards by which we train lifeguards nationally.

Lisa is a familiar smiling face in the valley, having been raised here since she was 10, starting her aquatic career at the outdoor James Ross Memorial Pool with the usual litany of swim lessons, training and certification to begin the path of lifeguard, as well as Creston Wave swim coach, Aquafit instructor and skate patrol (which technically is still on water albeit frozen). Like a few of the guards that passed through here, she can also carve a notch in her resume with time served at the Wynndel pool, a unique experience, as well. She escaped the clutches of the Creston Valley as a young adult and went on to gain a diploma in human kinetics, as well as further her aquatics at various facilities in Cranbrook, Kelowna and Sooke. Lisa was instrumental in the opening of the H20 Adventure Centre in Kelowna, which hosted Canada’s first FlowRider — a piece of equipment that simulates a wave to learn to flowboard; in fact, she was the first female rider of this really cool experience, which is also on many cruise ships.

Hey, speaking of cruise ships, she also spent a number of years on that circuit, sailing all over the world and instructing passengers the finer points of flowboarding, rock climbing and ziplining, as well as ending up at one point on the lifeguard crew at Bondi Beach in Australia. Needless to say, she has seen more of the world in person that most have even after binge watching the Travel Channel for a week. The cool thing that I like is that after seeing some 41 countries in eight years, she and her husband have decided that the Creston Valley is the best place to settle and raise a family. (But we all knew that already, didn’t we…)

So, we welcome Lisa into the fold and ask that you bear with us and remain gentle as she has a pretty intense learning curve ahead of her with all the programs, staffing and operations matters that are required to keep the wheels turning in the aquatic centre. Of course, those of you that come swimming know the great team we have in there already, which makes the transition that much easier — plus the rest of us aren’t half bad either. Don’t forget about all the activities we have for children and families this Family Day from 12:15-5:30 p.m. at the complex. See you there!

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.