By Brandon Oates – Head Coach – Belleville Beast Swim Team
There is only one swimmer remaining on the Belleville Beast Swim Team that joined prior to the opening of the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, and that is Ashley Allaire. Her time with the Beast began in 2011 and she has never looked back. She is the only athlete on the team that predates the Head Coach, Brandon Oates. In the fall of 2012, the two began working together and have been through many swimming adventures over the last 9 years.
Ashley is extremely passionate about competitive swimming and has consistently been one of the most committed on the team. Every season, her attendance percentage has been in the high 90th percentile and she has always attended swim meets on a regular basis. Since her first day swimming, she has strived to improve that little bit at every practice, and with thousands of hours spent in the water, she has been able to achieve tons of success, including earning a scholarship to Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. She plans to double major in Sports and Exercise Health Care & Health and Wellness. Her hard work has paid off and she is looking forward to studying and competing for the NCAA Division I Golden Griffins.
There were many milestones along the way. At the Regional level, Ashley has been earning medals since the age of 10 and has been dominant in Eastern Ontario throughout the years. Although most of her recent success comes from freestyle and breaststroke events, she began winning medals in butterfly races at a young age. Her perseverance in the pool since she began, has allowed her to attain all sorts of feats throughout her career.
Ashley had her first glimpse of provincial competition when she was part of the 30-member Ontario Division III Team Championship crew that competed at the Etobicoke Olympium. Following that, she competed on multiple Ontario Division II Team Championships crews and was able to qualify for Ontario Festival Championships in 2014 and then again in 2016. In 2017, she had a breakout year where she qualified for Ontario AA Championships, Ontario Provincial Championships and Eastern Canadian Championships.
In 2018, she won a medal in almost every single Regional Championship event, placed well at Provincial Championships, and finished the season off by flying to Dublin, Ireland to compete in multiple events at Irish National Championships, where she qualified for five finals. The next season, Ashley continued to flourish at the Regional and Provincial level, including winning multiple gold medals at the 2019 Ontario Youth Jr. Championships. That summer also included a trip out to Moraga, California where she attended Far Western Championships, where she placed top 5, and to finish of 2019, she qualified and raced at her first Ontario Jr. International Competition.
In 2020, Ashley raced her final Provincial Championships, right before COVID-19 hit and since then she has been training open water whenever she could, before finally making it back into the QSWC last fall; having been out of the pool since March 2020.
To begin 2021 in a lockdown was not easy to digest, but she is extremely happy to be back in the water, training alongside her teammates and never takes swimming for granted.
Ashley trains in the top group for the Beast. Her Performance squad teammates currently spend 15 hours per week together. One of her training partners, Victoria McDowell, went on the trips to Ireland and California with her. Victoria is also an Eastern Canadian qualifier and raced at Ontario Youth Jr. Championships, plus she is a coach for the Jr. Beast program. She is planning to head out west in the fall to pursue Nursing and hopes to continue to both swim and coach.
Lexy Buchanan is the other female in the top group, with Victor Coutu and Owen Googe forming the rest of the Performance squad. These swimmers are lucky to have a strong senior group to train alongside, that consists of a bunch of up-and-coming teenage swimmers who are destined to deliver a major impact when swim meets return. There is also a strong advanced group, which has a dozen talented swimmers that will contribute in an incredibly positive manner down then road, including Maddy Kort, a recent team record setter in the 11 and 12 50m backstroke category. Overall, the future is looking extremely bright for the Beast.
With three athletes moving on next season, the team still has a solid core heading into next season. There will be more high school swimmers on the team next year than there has been in a long time, and the young talent that will breakthrough, will allow the team to rise in the rankings amongst teams across Ontario and Canada. The main emphasis will remain intact; have fun and work hard. The swim program has always been built around having a great attitude, staying dedicated and displaying a steady effort at every workout.
Ashley completely bought into the program and after 10 amazing years with the Beast, she will be moving onto a post-secondary level and remain ready to continue to progress her skills. Hopefully, she will be able to return and compete with the team in the future, including at the next Olympic Trials, possibly with many of her teammates. Her and her fellow swimmers will be missed next season, but what they have gained here over the years will stay with them forever.
Once a Beast, Always a Beast.
Also check out our interview on Total Sports Quinte Podcast below.