The amount of time he spends in water is why his Vernon Masters Swim Club teammates refer to Mike Stamhuis as part fish, part man.
The former administrator for the District of Coldstream does back-to-back workouts in the evening and early morning at the Vernon Recreation Centre pool.
He competes in the water. He coaches in the water. He lives with a view of the water (Kal Lake). He is a multiple national and provincial record holder.
Stamhuis has been named the winner of the Masters Swimming Association of B.C.’s (MSABC) Stan Powell Award, which is presented annually by the association to the person who has contributed to the betterment of, and/or service to, masters swimming in British Columbia.
“I’m very pleased to have won this award but even more pleased that it was my fellow teammates who put my name forward,” said Stamhuis, who also won MSABC’s other major honour, the Ted Simpson Award, for achievement in 2019,
His mom, Conny, 89, who still swims and competes (though she is currently slowed by knee replacement surgery), won the Stan Powell Award in 2007 when she was a club registrar.
Stamhuis, 67, has been a member of the Vernon club since 2007. As award nominator and club member Lori Robinson wrote, Stamhuis is “a leader in and out of the pool with unparalleled dedication to our sport.”
“He gets to know all of our members, regardless of ability or schedules, and leads by example in how far one can take their swimming with some determination, discipline and commitment,” said Robinson.
“It is not just in the pool where Mike is a leader. He volunteers his time officiating at the Vernon Kokanee swim meets (youth program) and will give officiating clinics to other volunteers. This has built a solid group of volunteers for both our Kokanee and Masters’ swim meets.”
When masters’ pool workouts wrap up in June, it’s Stamhuis who takes the club outdoors for lake swims. Robinson said his emails are “entertaining and humorous, laced with poetic prose, giving the details of an eventful lake swim, such as when brave souls battled the waves and survived to tell their tales.”
Stamhuis will have coffee and extras ready after chilly lake swims, wear his Canadian Speedo on Canada Day and, for the club’s fall solstice swim, he’ll be wearing glow sticks to guide the way out of Pumphouse Beach on Kal Lake.
During the pandemic, when the club was no longer allowed to have coached, group workouts, Stamhuis provided four workouts per week via email, offering the right amount of challenge and variety for all levels of swimmers. “These workouts have helped us keep up our swimming fitness and, more importantly, our club camaraderie,” said Robinson.
Stamhuis has also encouraged club members to take part in polar dips throughout the winter.