Otters post top swims in Kitimat

Kurihara and Durnin take top honours as Bulkley Valley Otters swim to top finishes

The local pool in Smithers might not be the biggest or the fanciest but it seems to do a pretty good job of cranking out top quality swimmers.

The last weekend of January, a relatively small squad attended the Rio Tinto Northern Lights invitational in Kitimat and swam their way to a pair of outstanding athlete awards to go with 36 top-three finishes.

Perhaps most noteworthy was one of the team’s up and coming squad of youngsters. Kanna Kurihara, 11, started off her weekend by taking what might be considered a pair of the most demanding events: the 200 metres butterfly and the 400 individual medley.

The butterfly race consisted of eight lengths of what is often considered the most challenging events in the sport, while the medley is four lengths of each of the strokes — butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl.

Kurihara hit the wall first in the 200 and 400 individual medley, the 100 and 200 backstroke, the 50 butterfly, the 200 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke, all in club record times. For good measure she added a club record in the 100 butterfly in an exhibition time trial.

Not to be outdone, Zachary Durnin, also 11, took both of those events in the boys division and for good measure added a second place in the 200 breaststroke.

One of the most exciting races of the weekend came down to the special 50 butterfly eliminator race in which the fastest swimmers from the preliminary heats of that race swam again with competitors being knocked out of the race until there were only two left.

While Kurihara handled the swimmers in her 11-12 year old division early on, she went up against far bigger rivals in the knock out rounds who were as many as three years older.

No problem. She just kept getting faster and faster over the distance until she was the winner of the event. For her performance, she was named the top swimmer in the girls 11-12 division. In the process of winning her seven individual events, she set seven club records in her age category.

Durnin took top honors in the boys 11-12 category. Eight-year-old Kaede Kurihara was the bronze medal winner in the 10 and under division.

Another first place finsh went to Fergus Hobson, 17. Seconds and thirds were garnered by Erica Rooke, 15, Konrad Thummerer, 16, Liam Belanger, 13, River Stokes-deYoung, 17, Jean-Luc Belanger, 16, and Kaede Kurihara, 8, who took the bronze medal for her overall performance in the 10 and under girls category.

While she did not place in the top three places, rookie Ellia Garland showed she will be a force to contend with as she finished just outside the scoring positions.

Next up for the team will be a home meet as well as some provincial competitions.

Submitted story

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Kanna Kurihara, 11, was the outstanding swimmer of the meet for the Bulkley Valley Otters as she took eight events in club record time. (Contributed photo)

(Left to right) Ellia Garland, Kaede Kurihara, Kanna Kurihara and Zachary Durnin combined for a third in the 12 and under mixed 200 freestyle relay. (Contributed photo)

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