It was splash and dash for members of the Otters swim team as they took on some of the top swimmers in the country at the Prairie Invitational in Winnipeg last weekend.
The meet hosted close to 400 swimmers for clubs from the western provinces as well as Ontario.
The top result of the weekend came from Fergus Hobson, 16, in the 200 butterfly. The event was a favorite of star swimmer Micheal Phelps but has remained one of the more challenging races on the books.
“I’ve been working on this race a long time now,” said Hobson. “And I’m finally getting the hang of it.”
The races were held in the 50-meter, or long course, format of the Pan Am pool which hosted that event in 1967 and 1999. When first built it was one of the fasted pools in the world and numerous world records were established there.
Ten-year-old Kanna Kurihara didn’t seem to notice that the pool length was challenging as she pulled down another six club records. The meet format had her racing much older competitors but that did not seen to matter as she set new standards in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley races.
The pool also had the latest technology in starting equipment which has been unavailable at most pools. Track start devices for the back of the blocks as well as special backstroke start ledges were available to stabilize the swimmer’s feet during the start process to allow them a better push off the wall.
River Stokes DeYoung had several top 10 results, most notably in the 200 breaststroke and the 400 freestyle.
“I think the 200 breaststroke long course is the hardest event in swimming. It uses the legs a lot more than any other event in the sport,” he said.
During the meet, the Otters swam as part of the Points North team. When the teams of the northwest region of B.C., which includes Smithers, Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Terrace, travel outside the region, they get together as Points North in order to have relays and the support that a larger squad can give.
The team’s top relay finish was in the 4×100 medley in which Hobson swam the butterfly and Stokes de Young the final freestyle leg. The team was seventh overall.
Some of the teams at the meet had as many as 600 swimmers in their programs.
The team’s next competition will be held in Prince George in April.