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Top spots for the Rapids at Tier 1

by Vlad Volchkov

On Thursday, March 8th, a squad of 22 swimmers and 3 coaches travelled to Penticton to compete in the Tier I Winter Provincial Championship. The team consisting of Ethan Chang, Thomas Chen, Adrian Choi, Howie Chu, Daniel Du, Matthew Guan, Mingjun He, River He, Maio Hui, Madeleine Leung, William Li, David Maibaum, Samantha McCallum, Baasan Nyamtseden, Joshua Nygard, Avery Ritchie, Ken Stroud, Isabella Villasenor, Elim Yang, Joseph Yeh, Jenna Zhang, Kayla Zhang and coaches Drew, Al, and Vlad raced hard and fast over three days and five sessions.

A new format for the provincial meet, running most of the events as timed finals, meant that every swimmer got a chance to compete in both the morning and afternoon sessions. While nothing new to the experienced swimmers in the group, the meet format gave the rookies an opportunity to learn self-management. Racing in the morning and then coming back to race in the afternoon is a skill on its own that is part of the curriculum of a developing athlete. Since most of the events were timed finals, excluding the 200m freestyle and the 200m IM, it required each swimmer to give their best effort each time they hit the water.

On the first session of the first day, David Maibaum earned the team’s first medal of the weekend with a second place in the 200m backstroke. He was joined in the top eight by Isabella Villasenor who placed eighth. In the 200 fly that followed, Maibaum got his second silver, William Li coming in third and Mingjun He placing seventh.

Saturday began with the 200 IM prelims. The first of the two events that offered both prelims and finals, the 200 IM was the most populated event of the weekend for both boys and girls. The fight for finals was not easy, and four Rapids swimmers got themselves the second swim: David Maibaum and Isabella Villasenor in the A final, and Samantha McCallum and William Li in the B final. The girls did not get much rest as both McCallum and Villasenor competed in the 100m breaststroke that followed. After an exciting and energy fueled race, both girls reached the podium with Villasenor getting the bronze, and McCallum winning the event by four hundredths of a second. The morning session concluded with the mixed gender 200m freestyle relay. The relay team consisting of He, McCallum, Villasenor, and Baasan Nyamtseden put together a great race and finished third.

The afternoon session on Saturday began with a very exciting mixed gender 200m medley relay. He, McCallum, Li, and Villasenor placed second. Later on in the session, Avery Ritchie placed 8th in the 400 freestyle. The 200 IM finals concluded the day with the four Rapids finalists all moving up spots. In the B final, Li and McCallum both moved up to ninth place from 12th and 15th respectively. In the A final, David Maibaum moved up from seventh to just outside a podium finish at fourth place. Isabella Villasenor put in a great effort and moved up from fifth to a second-place finish.

By Sunday morning, the fatigue started to set in, but that didn’t stop the Rapids from having one of their most successful sessions, earning multiple top eight finishes in the 200m breaststroke and the 100m butterfly. The final heat of the girls 200m breaststroke was the one to watch, with Villasenor and McCallum stepping up to race for their second breaststroke medal of the weekend. After a very tight race, and an even tighter finish, McCallum finished in fourth, while Villasenor claimed the silver medal. The boys 100m butterfly was just as successful, with Li and Maibaum both placing third in their respective age groups. They were joined in the top eight by He (fourth), Villasenor (seventh), and Madeleine Leung (fourth).

The last session of the meet concluded with the 200m medley relay, 400m IM, 100m backstroke and the 200m freestyle finals. In the boys 13-and-under 200m medley relay, a Rapids squad consisting of Howie Chu, He, Li, and Nyamtseden placed third.

In the 400m IM, a very tough event even fully rested, the Rapids swimmers put in a great effort in spite of the fatigue. Maibaum came in fourth, Villasenor finished in seventh, and Maddie Leung came in fifth. Following the 400m IM, Maibaum scored the silver in the 100m backstroke, with Villasenor placing eighth. To finish out the meet, Maibaum raced in the 200m freestyle final, finishing seventh.

With the conclusion of Tier I, the Rapids team looks toward the last provincial championship meet of the short course season, Senior Open, which takes place this weekend at the new UBC Aquatic Centre. You can follow the progress of the team by visiting the Swim BC website or by following the Rapids team’s twitter and Instagram accounts.

The Rapids would also like to thank our amazing chaperones who made the trip possible: Gina McCallum, Sena Yang, Gunter Maibaum, and Fred Villasenor. You all are fantastic!