It was quite a weekend for local swimmers as they headed to Kitimat for the first competition of the season. Three national Paralympic records. Seven club-age group records. Four individuals with high point medals.
The list goes on. Six different swimmers won at least one individual event in taking a total of 15 different events.
According to head coach Tom Best the results were very satisfying but more importantly, “The kids had a great time and that is really what it’s all about.”
This was the first away meet for many of the young swimmers among the 18 who attended the competition.
“The more experienced kids were great in helping the little guys get to their events keep focused on why they were there,” said Best.
A real treat for the swimmers was having national Paralympic team member Jonathan Dieleman competing within the region for the first time. In the process, he set national short course records in the 50 and 100 breaststroke swims — his specialty — as well as a new event, the 100 individual medley.
Since being re-classified, the medley event, which features all four of the competitive strokes, has become another goal.
“We’ve had to start doing the butterfly which I didn’t have to do before. It’s a real challenge but it’s starting to come together,” said Dieleman.
The records will be considered pending until they are reviewed by the national body for swimming.
Last season’s top two swimmers for the Otters picked up right where they left off at the end of last season. Kanna Kurihara, now 11, set club records at her new age in all seven events she swam. She took the 100 and 200 m backstroke events and was runner up in the 200 and 400 individual medley, the 400 freestyle the 200 breaststroke and the 100 butterfly.
Fergus Hobson, 17, showed some versatility as he took top spot in the 200 and 400 freestyle in addition to the 100 and 200 butterfly. He added third places in the 50 butterfly and 50 free.
Another swimmer in a new age category, Zachery Durnin, 11, showed he will be a force to contend with as he took the 50 backstroke and breaststroke races and for good measure added the 200 back and 400 medley. He also had a third in the demanding 200 freestyle.
After a year’s hiatus from swimming, dash and splash racer Erica Rooke, 14, showed she was ready to go as she took the 50 free and breaststroke sprints, and added the 100 back. For good measure, she took second in the 50 back and butterfly swims.
For their overall performances, Kurihara, Hobson, Rooke and Durnin were awarded bronze medals.
Jean-Luc Belanger took the senior 800 freestyle while Byron Greene, 13, won the 200 butterfly.
“It was a great way to start the season. You could see the kind of work we’ve been doing and the kids all showed a fitness level that we can expect for the early season. Some of the swimmers have some pretty lofty goals for the year and this meet shows we are on the right track,” said Best.
“We had a lot of kids who were away for their first meet and I’m very happy with the way they performed. They all had a lot of fun and good results in the water and that’s exactly what we should see,” he said.
Next up for the Otters will be the Prince George Invitational in mid-November.