LS Walsh rises to top in first-ever Diver Race
By Peter Mallett,
The Lookout Staff
LS Matt Walsh proved himself the fastest Diver on West Coast land and water by topping the field in the Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) (FDU(P)) first-ever Unit Race on December 13.
He was one of 55 Clearance Divers and Support Staff in the unit who took part in the inaugural event at the Colwood-based unit. The competition is an effort to build friendly competition between members of FDU(P), and also was a fundraiser for the National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaign (NDWCC).
Competitors were seeded into three groups for the race, which launched in front of the unit’s mess, starting with a 1.5-mile run on pavement and cross country.
Once completing the run, they quickly changed into their wet suits for the aquatic component. With flippers in hand, runners then made their way to a bridge near G Jetty before making the four-metre plunge into the cold waters of Esquimalt Harbour to begin an 850-metre swim.
LS Walsh, who is currently studying in the Clearance Diver QL5 training program, finished the race with a top time of 24:47. His victory was the second one at the base in as many months as LS Walsh was also the top runner in the CAF Sports Day 5-kilometre run on October 20, completing the course with a time of 17:55.
“The best strategy to use for the race is to hold off slightly in the run so you are not so gassed in the transition, and then really turn it on for the swim portion of the race,” he says.
Other top diver race finishers were LS Brian Ogle who finished in second place with a time of 25:34, and LS Dave Divers who took third place with a time of 26:50.
Running and swimming the race is a task those enrolled in the all dive training courses face on a regular basis. Lt(N) Mike St-Pierre, FDU(P) Executive Officer, says staging the unit-wide competition was not only a way to build camaraderie amongst the divers, but also a good way to boost their unit’s contribution to the annual charity campaign.
Following the race, divers joked and congratulated each other during the fundraising breakfast in their mess.
LCdr Rick Kappel, Commanding Officer of FDU(P), said getting 100 percent participation from everyone in the unit was key to the new event’s success.
“I participated in the race too, everyone in the unit from the top down took part,” he said. “Those who weren’t physically able played support roles by taking race statistics, officiating, or helping cook and serve food at the breakfast fundraiser.”
He and Lt(N) St-Pierre say they are now planning on making the event a bi-annual tradition.
The Commanding Officer said he was extremely proud of everyone in his unit’s efforts throughout the year at helping others in the community in need. So far FDU(P) has raised approximately $18,000 for this year’s NDWCC by holding fundraising efforts throughout the year.
“It’s typical of our unit; the clearance diving community is a very giving group of people,” said LCdr Kappel. “When there is a need we all come together for the cause, it’s typical of the camaraderie in this unit.”