August 9, 2016
In Calgary, Charlie Ford, Amanda McCallum, Serena Xue, Ethan Chan, Matthew Crawford, Angel Rodriguez, Richard Rakchtis, Jackson Xie, Brian Yu, and coach Drew McClure attended the 2016 Canadian Age Group Championships, the most competitive meet for Canada’s top 18-and-under swimmers.
In order to qualify, swimmers had to achieve a minimum of three national standards.
The five-day meet allowed only eight swimmers per age group to advance to the final in the evening. As it was an achievement to even qualify for the meet, making finals was another accolade in itself.
Serena Xue, in her last age group meet as a Rapid before leaving for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, made finals in all three breaststroke disciplines. Matthew Crawford finished eighth in the 50 backstroke, the first national final of his career.
The Rapids were regularly at the top of the podium as well, with the club’s second highest-ever medal haul of fourteen individual podium swims. One of those swims belonged to Jackson Xie on the first night of racing. Seeded fifth in the 50 breaststroke, Xie devoted himself to the final 10 meters of the race, solidly placing third and winning the bronze medal.
Also on the podium for the 50 breaststroke was Brian Yu, who dipped under 31 for the first time to snag the gold medal. Brian, in spite of having to nurse a shoulder injury, was on top of two other sprints during the week.
The next medal for Yu was dominant, going 52.92 to win the 100 free by a huge eight tenths. Controlled and steady on the way out, Yu hammered the third 25 and was dominant to the finish. The following day, Yu defended his national title in the 50 freestyle, going 23.88 and qualifying for Canadian World Trials. Yu was ahead the entire time, widening his lead over an ever-trailing field after an impossible-to-match middle 20 meters.
Amanda McCallum again proved her consistency and versatility, finishing with a truly impressive nine medals out of nine events, consisting of three gold, four silver, and two bronze. Two of the gold came from backstroke, where McCallum was virtually untouchable in the back half, defending two of her titles from 2015. Both swims were nearly even-split, a mark of focus and skill. McCallum was silver in both IMs and 100- and 200-meter freestyles. The bronze medals came in the 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke.
The remaining gold came on the first night of the meet, and was one of the bigger upsets of the week. After a rocky start, McCallum qualified 8th in the 100 fly, giving her an outside lane in finals. After the first 50, McCallum was dead last. Then, charging strong from the outside, she looked to challenge for a medal. With 5 meters left and a massive surge, McCallum separated herself from the field by .02 to win in a time of 1:03.87. The next two girls tied for second.
At the Open Water Championships the following Monday, Charlie Ford was the Rapids’ sole representation as a participant in the women’s 2.25 km. In the first 750m lap, Ford was sitting in the top of the pack, with the heat’s two leaders just ten meters ahead. Halfway through the second lap, Ford broke away from the pack to challenge the second-place swimmer, overtaking with grit, superior line choice, and quality turns at the buoys. From there, it was all but settled. Ford held off the challenger through the final lap with an eight-meter lead, holding her spot for the silver medal.
With that result in the books, the Rapids had their first ever Open Water medal, and finished each of the six days of racing with a podium finish.
In this July’s BC Summer Games, Jeremy Fung, Josh Quon, Shane Sagar, Dimitri Volchkov, and Darren Ge represented both the Richmond Rapids and their regional zone in a three-day, heats-and-finals competition. Swimmers were selected based on aggregate scores across event categories, de-qualified with Western National qualification or previous meet participation.
The Rapids represented the zone well, with dominate performances like the 100 fly, where Ge, Quon, and Fung finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in a near sweep. Dimitri Volchkov won gold in the 50 free and 100 back, and was also on the podium in the 100 free, earning the silver medal.
The Rapids have their last club meet of the season starting this week, as Serena Xue and Amanda McCallum join Alex Ball, Nic Dekker, and coach Robert Pettifer in Edmonton for Canadian Swimming Championships, the most competitive open age national championship this year, other than Olympic Trials last spring.
Shortly after, Jonathan Dieleman will make his Paralympic debut as a member of the Canadian national team. Stay tuned to the Swimming Canada web page for details and results.
The club returns to regular training in September.