Otters find podium, break club records at Kitimat meet

Several Bulkley Valley Otters had podium finishes in Kitimat against roughly 150 swimmers from around the northwest

Several Bulkley Valley Otters had podium finishes, broke club records and set personal bests at a meet in Kitimat against roughly 150 swimmers from around the northwest two weeks ago.

“I wasn’t expecting some of the drops in times from three weeks previous, but we had some really good drops in time,” said head coach Tom Best.

The club took eight swimmers down, one of them being Tanner Espersen.

Tanner qualified for two national events including the western national meet and the age-group championship in Quebec in the 50-metre backstroke.

“He’s been trying to get that for quite a while and he finally nailed it,” said Best, adding that the 16-year-old also broke the club record in that race with a time of 28.65.

In total, he swam in seven events, and achieved personal bests in all of them.

Thirteen-year-old River Stokes-DeYoung qualified for AAA provincials with the 200 and 400 freestyle, and broke the club record in the 200 as well.

The young swimmer also walked away with an impressive nine first-place finishes.

“He swam controlled the way that he was supposed to,” said Best. “He swam very, very well.”

Tanner’s brother Bailey also qualified for western nationals in the 200 individual medley and set a personal best in the 200 breaststroke, shaving five seconds off his previous time.

Monica Joseph also came first place in the 50 backstroke and the 50 fly and second in the 100 breaststroke.

Gabby Correia, who has been out of the water for a while due to illness, finished second place overall in the senior girls age group, with first or second place finishes in all her races.

“Gabby showed that what we’re doing with our breaststroke is really not too darn bad because she won the girls 100 breaststroke for senior and she took about four seconds off her best time,” said Best.

Zane Stokes-DeYoung was named the club’s swimmer of the meet; while Tanner, Bailey and another kid tied for first overall in the senior age group. Luke Berarducci swam into fourth.

The club finished third behind Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

“It just goes to show that a small group can do very well,” said Best.

He noted that the athletes have been working on swimming tactically, holding back at the beginning of the race and then increasing their speed during the second half, and it showed at the meet.