DIGBY - As of this afternoon, Rob Swan had played a game of curling in either 49 or 50 clubs across Canada.
“I picked up two extra along the way, one of which was Kentville, where I just came from. And… I don’t know, this is 49 or 50,” said Swan, Dec. 23, as he pulled on his curling shoes to play in Digby.
[Curl Across the Nation at play in Digby (VIDEO)]
The electrician from Harvey Station, N.B. is on a mission to curl in every club in Canada.
He says it will take him ten years to get to all 930 registered clubs in Canada; or 1,120 clubs if you count the unregistered ones.
Swan works three weeks on in northern British Columbia as an electrician, and then two weeks off.
Since October he’s been spending his weeks off in curling clubs across the country: on his busiest day he played four games; during five days in Toronto he played 18 games.
“I only play one game per club,” he said. “I flat out refuse to play two. It would wear me out.”
Swan started out to curl 100 games in 100 clubs as a fundraiser for his community’s 53-year-old curling club in Harvey Station.
But he says, once he got on the road, it quickly turned into a campaign to raise awareness about the sport in general.
“I don’t want to be negative but curling is in a dismal state,” he said. “I’ve played in clubs in Manitoba that won’t be open the next time I go back. We have got to do something to get people into this sport.”
For one thing, Swan would like to see curling advertised at the end of summer, just before curling season, rather than during the big tournaments, which tend to come at the end of the season.
He’d also like to see little things change.
For example, driving into Bridgetown on Dec. 22, Swan noticed the highway signs show gas stations, museums and golf courses.
“But where are the curling clubs?” he said. “Curling doesn’t have highway signs in my province either, but why not? If you’re going to promote one sport, you should promote curling too.”
Swan says curling’s big strength is that anyone can play.
“I played with a woman in Toronto, 96, and no stick,” he said, referring to a piece of equipment used to eliminate bending to the ice. “You can play from the time you’re four til you’re dead.”
And then there’s the social aspect.
“It’s the most sociable sport in the world,” he said. “You can’t go into a club anywhere in the country without making new friends.”
Swan has made a few friends in the first three months of his quest – the Curling Across the Nation Facebook page has over 1,000 likes.
By the end of the season Swan plans to have visited over 120 clubs.
He hopes to play his last game this season during the Brier in Calgary on Brier ice.
But then he’s had invites to play in the summer too in clubs in Europe and in the USA.
Swan played his one game in Digby before rushing to catch the 4 o’clock boat for Saint John so he could play there the same night.
He’ll take Christmas Eve off and Christmas Day and then he flies to Sault Saint Marie, ON for two games, then on to Thessalon, ON for the Dec. 27 where they’ve organized a whole bonspiel around his visit.
And then he starts work again on Dec. 28.
For more information, see Rob Swan's webpage: www.curlingacrossthenation.com
Or the Curling Across the Nation FundRazr page: fundrazr.com/campaigns/erWnd