With excellent results at both the Tier II and Tier I provincial swimming championships earlier this month, the Duncan Stingrays showed that they have adapted quickly to the new championship format.
“The Tier I group handled the ‘get up and race’ approach and the new age groupings, particularly for the boys who were separated into two age categories: 11 and under and 12-13.”
A week after five of the senior Stingrays showed well at the Tier II meet in Kamloops, another five attended the Tier I provincials in Penticton on March 10-12, where they were among 450 competitors from 31 clubs. Bridget Burton and Mary Paridaen van Veen competed in the girls 11-and-12 events, Ryca Stiwich swam in the girls 10-and-under division, and Ty Dahlstrom and Koen Hales raced in the in 13-and-under boys division.
It was a high-pressure competition for the swimmers, several of whom were competing at their first provincials.
“All events were timed finals,” club head coach Leanne Sirup explained. “So our young swimmers only had one chance to race each event, and they were ready.”
Stingrays assistant coach Brent Forsyth, who had just attended the Tier II provincials in Kamloops a week earlier, accompanied the swimmers to Penticton, while Sirup stayed in Duncan to run the club’s Spring Break Meet.
“The 10-lane pool in Penticton was interesting and challenging for our young group,” Forsyth noted. “No time to look around, and a larger flight of competitors to face was unique. The Stingrays competed start to finish.”
The provincial meet came at the end of a grueling short-course season.
“For our swimmers to travel to Penticton at the end of the season and deliver over 85 per cent personal best efforts was notable,” Sirup said.
“The finishes of the Stingrays Tier I mixed relays indicates the program is in the middle and heading up the provincial ranks,” club spokesperson Bruce Clarke said.
Burton claimed a gold medal in the 100m backstroke, her time of 1:07.94 three seconds better than her previous personal best and a new club record. She also placed fourth in the 50m free and 200m backstroke; 12th in 200m IM, beating her previous PB by nine seconds; 16th in 100m breaststroke; and 21st in the 200m freestyle.
Paridaen van Veen earned bronze medals in both the 100m and 200m butterfly, her time of 1:08.79 breaking her own club record in the 200m. She also finished seventh in the 50m free, 10th in 200m and 400m free, taking 22 seconds off her old mark in the 400m, and 28th in the 200m IM, her best time in that event by 10 seconds.
“Our top 12-year-old girls were very strong,” Forsyth said, “The 11-12 girls category was the most competitive and the largest with over 150 entrants, but our Stingrays came to race. Both Bridget and Mary had busy programs and kept their focus as the weekend went along.”
Burton’s 100m backstroke win on Sunday was a qualifying swim for the Western Canadian championships, as were both of Paridaen van Veen’s bronze-medal butterfly results.
“It is interesting how Bridget and Mary have created their own specialties while training together each practice,” Forsyth said. “They are good teammates getting better together.”
Stiwich was among the Stingrays attending her first provincials, and competed in nine events. Her best was the 200m breaststroke, in which she placed 15th and broke her old personal best by four seconds. Strongest in the long swims, Stiwich improved her 400m free by almost 11 seconds.
Dahlstrom also entered nine events, setting 100 per cent personal bests. His 100m free time of 1:03.41 broke a 26-year-old club record, and his highest placing, while racing against 13-year-olds, was ninth in 100m backstroke, where he also beat his old personal best by three seconds, immediately after taking 32 seconds off his previous best in the 400m IM. Dahlstrom also did well in the 200m back, 50m free, 200m free and 100m breast, and his 200m IM time was a new PB by eight seconds.
Hales also recorded 100 per cent personal bests. Also competing against older swimmers, he did well in the 100m and 200m back, improving his time by nearly five seconds. Hales held his own in the 50m and 200m free, and shaved six seconds off his old PB in the 200m IM.
Burton, Paridaen van Veen, Dahlstrom and Hales teamed up to finish ninth in the mixed freestyle relay and 15th in the mixed medley relay.