A man that travels across Canada to curl at as many rinks as he can stopped in Tisdale for a game.
Rob Swan said the game in Tisdale was either his 222nd or 223rd rink since he started three years ago.
“For me, it’s trying to raise the awareness of the sport,” he said before his game Jan. 14. “I know that in a lot of curling facilities such as this, curling experienced a downturn maybe eight, 10, 15 years ago. Under no circumstances is curling in this country dead, but it needs a boost.”
His hope is that if he can attract local media to cover a curling rink that they otherwise wouldn’t cover, the extra attention will encourage more people to take up the sport.
“If I can persuade one person to get into this sport or one person to get back into this sport, then I’ve done my job – and I’ll try everything I can.”
Swan started his journey as a fundraising idea for his hometown curling club in Harvey Station, N.B.
“The original idea was I was going to curl every rink facility in New Brunswick – and there’s only 31, which would have only taken me a week or two, but since I work across the country, a buddy of mine said: what if you curl across the country?”
While the comment was in jest, it struck in Swan’s mind.
“Once that idea got into my head, I started thinking: yeah, I can do this.”
In his first year, Swan curled at 103 rinks. This is his third year and he’s already planning his fourth.
Swan is still fundraising for his rink by accepting donations and selling merchandise on his website and his Curling Across the Nation Facebook page, but he said that when he comes to a rink like Tisdale’s, he’s asking for a game, not for money – and in fact, encourages people to donate and volunteer to their local rink.
Beside the horrible weather in Saskatchewan this year, Swan said his biggest challenge was scheduling.
“I do all of the scheduling on my own. I try to contact the clubs a month to three months in advance of me coming through their area and I always try to book as many games as I possibly can in the two-week period that I have off.”
He tries to book a morning, afternoon and evening game a day. Sometimes he plays four games a day. Usually the rinks accommodate him by organizing a game for him – which is what Tisdale did – or placing him on a team during league play.
In Tisdale, he played second on a team that included Bob Marshall as the skip, Joanne Howes as the lead and Brian Lloyd as the third. They faced off against team with Jim Grant as the skip, Donna Dobson as the lead, Deanna Bailey as the second and Jim Allemeersch as the third. The Tisdale Curling Club said the match was too close to call.
As for the best or most unique rink Swan has played in, he refuses to say.
“I never come into a curling facility to judge whether it is better or worse than any other curling facility. I don’t come to judge them on their capacity to supply the sport of curling. I come in to get a game. I come in to showcase their facility to the world,” he said, adding he will suggest things to clubs that he’s seen that have helped other clubs across the country.
Swan said he was also excited that Tisdale will be hosting the SaskTel Men’s Tankard from Feb. 1 to 5.
“It is great for smaller communities like this to be able to host an event like that for a couple of reasons,” he said. “It brings curling into this community in a big way and it also allows CurlSask to utilize the smaller, rural facilities a lot more than what they [do].”