The young swim season is hardly underway and as the local Otters get into condition for the wide range of events, early competitions have proven to be more than a little exciting.
Last weekend at a meet in Prince George featuring come of the top young swimmers in the province, members of the Otters splashed, dashed and cruised as they showed that you don’t need to be in a large centre in order to develop aquatic skills.
Ten-year-old Kanna Kurihara turned heads among the officials at the meet with her superb technical abilities that led her to a win in the 100 freestyle, as well as seconds and thirds in other events including smashing the club record in the 200 individual medley by more than two seconds.
For her third place finish in the 100 medley, Kurihara was invited to participate in the always popular eliminator event. The event pits the top athletes in a specific event, in this case the 100 medley, to race a series of one-length sprints in which the last two finishers are dropped from subsequent races.
Kurihara, by far the smallest competitor in the event, showed that superior technique can overcome the disadvantage of size.
That said, with a short, one-length race, larger size can create an advantage at the start which is difficult to overcome in the short contest.
The first race was freestyle, and with her abilities in that particular discipline she was able to advance to the following round.
Next came the breaststroke and again, she was able to move on to the butterfly race which came next.
It was a very close race that had the pool rocking, but Kurihara was touched out but a mere tenth of a second. After three days of racing a wide variety of events, she showed she had the desire to give as much as she could in every race.
Shortly after that, she hopped in the pool again as a member of the Points North relay team which went on to a second place finish.
When the Northwest region teams travel outside the region, they generally go as a combined Points North team in order to make it possible to have relays and a larger presence in higher level competitions.
A few minutes after Kanna’s final race, River Stokes-DeYoung, 15, hit the water with the senior boys relay. More recognized for his skills as a swimmer in the longer races, he put on a classic display of coming from behind to move his team from fourth to second place. Around two seconds behind at the start of the third leg of the four man relay, he rocketed his way down the pool to catch his opposition at the 25 meter mark, and then turned to pass that swimmer and to give his team a lead which they were able to maintain for second place.
For his first meet of the season, Stokes-DeYoung showed his range of ability with third place finishes in a variety of events.
“The kids all swam their hearts out all weekend long and it was great to see that they were paying attention to their races. It really showed with the number of best times and great swims they posted,” said head coach Tom Best.
Other top finishers for the team included Liam Belanger, 12, in the 100 medley, Luke Knight, 13, in the 100 butterfly, Byron Greene, 12, in the 50 and 100 butterfly, Caed Dunbar, 13, in the 50s of all four strokes, and Jean-Luc Belanger, 15, in the 100 breaststroke and the 50 butterfly.
While they did not finish in the scoring positions, Kanna Kurihara and Milan Anokhina, both seven, turned some heads with their energy and skill that showed they will be contenders in the future.
Next up for the Otters will be a regional meet in Kitimat Dec. 8-10.
– Submitted by the Bulkley Valley Otters.