Otter impress at first meet

The Bulkley Valley Otters set personal bests and qualified for provincials, all during their first meet of the season.

The Bulkley Valley Otters set personal bests and qualified for provincials, all during their first meet of the season.

“We had a fantastic meet. The kids swam way better than I was expecting for the first meet of the season,” said head coach Tom Best.

“We had all kinds of excitement.”

Of the 14 swimmers who attended the PGB fall invitational in Prince George over the weekend, more than seven captured at least one first place finish.

Gabby Correia was one of the biggest surprises of the meet, winning a handful of events and qualifying for the provincial championships.

“She’s had a rough fall with injuries and she’s been ill and she’s had a tough time with training,” said Best.

“But she came up real big and won a number of events . . . She surprised herself and everyone else.”

Best added that all swimmers had been working on pushing off the wall during starts and turns and it showed during their swims.

“We realized that it’s very beneficial to do that and pay attention to it and all kids did a really good job at that,” he said.

River Stokes-DeYoung also qualified for provincials in the 1,500-metre freestyle.

Eight-year-old Jordan Bertue came in third in the 10 and under category.

Cassie Hornung-Wandler had a batch of seconds, swimming a number of personal bests.

Bailey Espersen was named the top swimmer of the meet, taking first place in seven of eight events.

“He just looked fantastic,” said Best, noting that Espersen also qualified for the age group national championships in the 50-metre breast stroke.

“We weren’t expecting anything this weekend, but they came up big,” said Best. “The little kids did a fantastic job.”

Correia was also named the second swimmer of the meet for the girls.