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Duncan Stingrays start season with Thanksgiving Challenge

Duncan Stingrays start season with Thanksgiving Challenge

The Duncan Stingrays swim team journeyed to Courtenay on Oct. 14 for the first meet of the 2017-18 season as the Comox Aquatic Club hosted its annual Thanksgiving Challenge.

Most meets have a qualification standard, but in this case, all athletes had to do to enter was sign up.

“Swimming, not known as a team sport, often sees young athletes train together on a daily basis but seldom competing together at competitions,” Stingrays spokesperson Bruce Clarke said. “Olympic swimming has a series of regional, provincial and national and international qualifying standards. Frequently families travel in small groups to attend competitions their athlete qualifies for. It is a special time for spirit and togetherness when the whole team is able to attend a competition.”

For the Comox meet, the Stingrays rented a bus and travelled north with 35 athletes and coaches and a handful of parent assistants. The results were impressive for the first event of the fall.

“The Comox Meet provides a rare opportunity to have novices and age groupers join with experienced senior swimmers to have fun together and race,” head coach Leanne Sirup said.

Eight-year-old Elle Nakonechny had strong showings, particularly in the 100m freestyle and 100m individual medley, and Riley Yeo was competitive alongside 10-year-olds in the 100m IM.

Malcolm Blackburn, nine, had a strong 50m breaststroke and 100m IM, and Rudolf Kruger had personal best times in the 50 breaststroke and 100m free.

Kaylee Adair, 10, set personal bests in the 100m free and 50m backstroke, and Ryca Stiwich had a personal best in the 50m breaststroke.

Among 12-year-olds, Trevin Buckland beat his previous records in the 100m IM and 100m free by 18 seconds, Bridget Burton had a much-improved 200m IM, Tye Dahlstrom placed first in his age group in both the 100m free and 200m IM, Bennett Telfer had best times in all four of his events, Chantelle Westgate set personal bests in the 100m free and 200m IM, and Keon Hales made his competitive debut for the Stingrays.

Noah Bird, 13, had best times in all four of his events, Erika Morgan was strong in all of her events, and McKinley Thomas-Perry had five personal bests.

The 14-year-olds included Carley Battie, who had a best time in the 100m free; Jasmine Kremer, who was competitive in the 100m butterfly; Dylan Kruger, who set a best time in the last race of the day, the 100m fly; Alex Rockson, who had five personal bests; and Spanish exchange student Sarah Blanch, who had a particularly fine 100m fly.

“The club dynamic has changed this year,” assistant coach Brent Forsyth noted. “Seven notable senior members graduated last spring and a new group of young persons are leading the lanes with the Stingrays.”

The club still has room for a few more young swimmers. For a tryout and a free two-week trial, call 250-710-3278.