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2011 Lethbridge Orcas Season Recap

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AUGUST 15TH, 2011

After coming out of nowhere to claim the 2010 Alberta Summer Swimming Association’s provincial title, the Lethbridge Orcas were looking to disprove any allegations of being a one hit wonder and take the first step in establishing a dynasty. Mission accomplished.

After one of the most dominating performances in club history in Medicine Hat at the Region “F” Championships last weekend, the Orcas were looking to ride their momentum straight into the Talisman Center in Calgary for the 2011 ASSA Provincial Championships. The Orcas dominated the field throughout the entire weekend and claimed the Provincial Large Age Group Team Title and the inaugural Masters (18 & Over) Title.

“We wanted to show the province that 2010 was no flash in the pan," Orcas Head Coach Kent Aitchison stated, “The entire club really buys into a team-first attitude. The swimmers are motivated to raise their game and the personal bests begin to flood in. The records, banners, medals and trophies come along with it, but are really just bonuses to what the team strives for – improving yourself and contributing to the team. I think that’s what separates us from the other clubs.”

Four provincial records were broken by Orcas swimmers. Rachel Tkach, Andrea Tkach, Melia Tipper and Ami Tipper made record breaking a family event by teaming up to obliterate the provincial marks in the Girls 15-17 200m Medley Relay and 200m Freestyle Relay. The sisters lowered the old records by over 5 seconds in both relay events (watch videos below).


Ami Tipper (15) also broke ASSA provincial records in the Girls 15-17 50m Breaststroke and Girls 15-17 50m Backstroke. Tipper was also named the ASSA’s Female Athlete of the Year. In terms of hardware, Orcas swimmers reeled in 55 medals over the weekend – 33 of them were gold. Tipper and freestyle specialist Keely Hopkins (14) lead the medal haul by bringing in a perfect 6 gold medals each. Elizabeth Pedersen (14) brought in 5 golds while Rachel Tkach (17) won 6 medals of various colours. Dwight Holmen (21) claimed four individual gold medals in the Masters Category. Kristy Gabruck (23), Carlee Morris (21), Jens Watt (9), Genna Wright (12) and Melia Tipper (17) also claimed individual gold medals.

The Orcas will now have to wait out the long off-season before the next summer swimming season kicks off in May 2012. “This is the just the start of something big,” says Aitchison, “We’re looking to cement ourselves as the top summer swimming program in the province for years to come. Next step: three-peat.”


AUGUST 13TH, 2011

Live results will be available all weekend! Click on the link below. Results will be uploaded within minutes of completion of each event. Also search "Live Results" for apps compatible with both iPads/iPhones and Androids.


Let's hang on to these for another year! :-)

AUGUST 8TH, 2011

The Lethbridge Orcas kicked off the 2011 Summer Swimming Championship Season this past weekend in Medicine Hat with one of the most dominating performances in team history. The Orcas claimed the Region F Championships by combining to score 1400 points – 1000 more than 2nd place. In addition to collecting over 160 medals, the Orcas qualified a team record 67 swimmers to the ASSA Provincial Championships that take place this weekend in Calgary. Genna Wright (12), Elizabeth Pedersen (14), and Keely Hopkins (14) lead the medal hunt on the girls’ side by claiming a perfect 6 gold medals each. James Kwan (15) collected 5 gold and 1 silver medals to lead the boys. Another highlight of the meet included the Girls 9/10 Relay team consisting of Dani Wright, Amanda Rood, Kira Armstrong and Madeline Vanden Elzen who punched their ticket to the Provincial Championships by winning an exhilarating swim-off after tying to the one-hundredth of a second with another team. Although many swimmers have their focus set on the Provincial meet, a handful of Orcas swimmers still found ways to etch their names into summer swimming history. The “Super Sisters” relay team of Ami Tipper (15), Melia Tipper (17), Andrea Tkach (15) and Rachel Tkach (17) obliterated both the Girls 15-17 200m Freestyle and 200m Medley Relay ASSA Provincial Records. Rachel Tkach also set a provincial mark in the Girls 15-17 50m Backstroke while leading off the Medley Relay on Saturday evening. On the following day the Girls 15-17 50m Backstroke Provincial mark was broken again by Ami Tipper during the individual event as she narrowly out-touched teammate Rachel. 

Regional Records Broken:

 ·         R. Tkach/A. Tipper/M. Tipper/A. Tkach 15-17 Medley Relay

·         A. Tipper/M. Tipper/A. Tkach/R. Tkach 15-17 Freestyle Relay

·         Keely Hopkins Girls 13/14 50m Freestyle

·         Keely Hopkins Girls 13/14 100m Freestyle

·         Keely Hopkins Girls 13/14 200m Freestyle

·         Brooke French Girls 15-17 800m Freestyle

·         Elizabeth Pedersen Girls 13/14 50m Backstroke (Relay Leadoff)

·         Elizabeth Pedersen Girls 13/14 100m Butterfly

·         Rachel Tkach 50m Backstroke (Relay Leadoff)

·         Rachel Tkach Girls 15-17 100m Backstroke

·         Ami Tipper Girls 15-17 50m Backstroke



Record Breakers L-R: Andrea Tkach, Ami Tipper, Rachel Tkach, Melia Tipper, Brooke French, Keely Hopkins & Elizabeth Pedersen

Alexa Benzie (17), Melissa Bexte (14), Elani Bykowski (14), Sara Copps (14), Karson Dewacht (10), Ali Fournier (10), Owen Guyn (14), Mason Harris (8), Nate Heyburn (11), James Kwan (15), Caitlin Langhofer (15), Saffron McGregor (8), Garrett Myles (11), Justin Myles (13), Elizabeth Pedersen (14), Emma Randle (14), Amanda Rood (10), Kyle Samoissette (13), Andrea Tkach (15), Rachel Tkach (17), Tate Tolman (15), Dani Wright (10) and Darci Wright (7) were flawless in achieving four personal best times in four individual swims.

The Orcas also made noise in the inaugural “Masters” age category. Dwight Holmen lead the Orcas’ coach/swimmer medal count with four individual gold medals. Orca alumni Chris Haney and Jason Isfeld picked up from where they left off in the 1980’s by claiming 6 medals each. Fan favourites Ryan Nelson, Tom “Papa” Copps and Marion Price rounded out the individual performances. Price also teamed up with Trina Alford, Jan Tkach and Karen Smith-Myles to form a “super-mom” relay team that picked up a bronze medal in the Girls OPEN 200m Freestyle Relay.

The Orcas now look forward to battling the rest of the province for both Age Group and Masters Division ASSA Provincial Titles at the Talisman Center in Calgary from August 12th-14th.

JULY 25TH, 2011

The Lethbridge Orcas competed in Fort MacLeod with 86 swimmers this past weekend. The club combined for over 1000 points to beat the next competitor by over 600 points. The club has won every meet in Region F this season as a team. This win also puts the Orcas total up to 21 straight wins. The 2011 season moves into the Championship Phase with Regionals, August 5-7, and concluding with Provincials, August 12-14. The Orcas will be looking to defend both their Regional and Provincial Championship titles. Here are medal winners from Fort MacLeod:

B 6&U tie for Gold: John Vanden Elzen and Harrison Isfeld; G 8&U Gold: Charlotte Vanden Elzen; B 8&U Gold: Jens Watt; G 11&12 Silver: Macey Fuller; G 13&14 Bronze: Elizabeth Pedersen, Gold: Keely Hopkins; G 15-17 tie for Silver: Melia Tipper and Rachel Tkach, Gold: Brooke French; B 15-17 Gold: James Kwan; B 17&O Gold: John Lapins, tie for Silver: Dwight Holmen and Jason Isfeld.

JULY 18TH, 2011

Chalk another one up in the “Win” column. The Lethbridge Orcas Summer Swim Club claimed their 20th straight meet victory this past weekend at the Crowsnest Pass Piranhas Invitational. Once again, the Orcas dominated the competition by more than doubling the second place team’s scoring total. The milestone dates all the way back back to May 2009. Danielle Price, Genna Wright and Macey Fuller highlighted the meet with a sweep of the Girls 11/12 Aggregate Awards. Erik Godwin (9), Ragan Roth (8), and Cole Wirvn (7) also shined for the Orcas as all three boys achieved a perfect 4 personal best times in 4 individual events. The Orcas now look ahead to the final regular season meet in Fort Macleod on July 23rd. The Orcas will look to wrap up a perfect regular season for the second straight year. Aggregate Winners included: Genna Wright: Silver, Danielle Price: Bronze, Macey Fuller: Gold, Keely Hopkins: Gold, Owen Guyn: Silver, Rachel Tkach: Silver, Ami Tipper: Gold, Spencer Haney: Bronze, James Kwan: Silver, Jenn Kabeary: Silver, Chris Haney: Bronze, Jason Isfeld: Silver.

Erik Godwin (above) was one of three Orcas that were "perfect" at the Pass Meet

JULY 5TH, 2011

Four Lethbridge Orcas swimmers took their talents to Northern Alberta this weekend as members of a provincial All Star Team. Amy Benzie (11), Keely Hopkins (14), Ami Tipper (15), and Melia Tipper (17) represented 4 out of the 16 members for this year's Alberta Summer Swimming Association's All Star Team at the Alberta Long Course Provincial Championships in Fort McMurray. After an 8 month off-season and only 6 weeks of training, the ASSA swimmers get to compete against swimmers that train for 11 months out of the year. It is an accomplishment in itself to even qualify for this competition and the quartet exceeded expectations by showing Alberta they were right where they belonged.

After claiming a bronze medal at this competition in 2010, Benzie made her way into the “A” Final in the Girls 11-12 50m Breaststroke and finished in 10th place. Benzie was the 3rd fastest 11-Year-Old in the event and followed the 50 with strong Top-20 performances in the 100m and 200m Breaststrokes. Hopkins cemented herself as one of the top sprinters in the province by easily qualifying for final swims in both the 50m and 100m Freestyle. Hopkins’ top finish was 9th in the 50m Freestyle in a field that included a handful of current National and Provincial Age Group Record Holders. The Tipper sisters faced a very deep field in the 15 & Over Age Category, but showed no signs of intimidation. Ami qualified for second swims in both the 50m and 100m Breaststrokes events and showed a great racing mentality by finding ways to improve both her time and overall placing from preliminaries to finals for both events. Melia saved her best for last by smashing the ASSA All Star Team record in the Girls 17 & Over 50m Freestyle during the last day of the competition. Melia posted a time of 28.84 which beat a time of 29.18 that had been set 2004. The swim was also Melia’s top finish as she placed 15th at the final session.

Orcas Head Coach Kent Aitchison was lucky enough to be selected as the coach of the All Star Team for the weekend, "It was a special thing to be a part of. I think it was a great experience for all four of them and they are better swimmers because of it. It's weekends like those that make you pretty proud to be a coach. I'm sure the whole team is very proud of them. It is a sign of good things to come for the Orcas on August 14th at ASSA’s own Provincial Championships!"

Melia Tipper's 50m Freestyle Preliminary Swim - ASSA Record

Ami Tipper's 50m Breaststroke Final


Keely Hopkins 50m Freestyle Final Swim - 9th Place

Amy Benzie's 50m Breaststroke leg during 4x50m Medley Relay


JUNE 20TH, 2011

The Lethbridge Orcas Summer Swim Club captured their 19th consecutive meet in Claresholm this past weekend. With over 60 swimmers in attendance, numerous personal best times were smashed and the Orcas managed to win the Gross Point category with 527 points. The aggregate winners are as follows: Girls- 8&U: Charlotte Vanden Elzen (silver), 11&12: Amy Benzie (bronze), Macey Fuller (silver), 13&14: Elizabeth Pedersen (gold), Keely Hopkins (gold), 15-17: Melia Tipper (silver), Ami Tipper (gold), 18&O: Carlee Morris (silver). Boys- 8&U: Harison Isfeld (bronze), John Vanden Elzen (silver), 15-17: James Kwan (silver).

Isabelle Petry (8), Cole Wirvn (7), Carson Mellow (6) and Ben Thornton (10) made the club proud while representing the Orcas for the first time. Jason Isfeld (41) made his return to the Orcas after a hiatus that lasted for more than two decades. Isfeld also broke the ice as the first ever 'Masters Division' Orca to compete at a meet. Nice work!

The Orcas will be taking a break from the Region F circuit next weekend when they head to the Calgary Swordfish Swim Meet held at SAIT. Lethbridge swimmers will have to wait until July 16th to attempt their 20th straight Regional Meet victory at the Crownest Pass Piranhas Swim Meet.

Harison Isfeld (6), Bronze Medalist


JULY 14TH, 2011

The Streak continues! Taber provided the site for the eighteenth consecutive Gross Trophy for the Lethbridge Orcas. As a team the Orcas outscored their closest opponent by over 200 points. Individually, Orcas collected 2 bronze, 3 silver, and 5 gold aggregate medals. Bronze medallists include, in 6 and under Harison Isfled, in 11 and 12 Macey Fuller, and in 15-17 Melia Tipper. Silver medallists include, in 11 and 12 Genna Wright, 13 and 14 Owen Guyn, and in 15-17 James Kwan. Gold medallists include, in 8 and under Charlotte Vanden Elzen, in 13 and 14 a tie between Elizabeth Pedersen and Keeley Hopkins, and a tie in 15-17 between Rachel Tkach and Ami Tipper.

The meet was the last chance at a meet for summer swimmers to qualify for the Swim Alberta Provincial Championships, which are the Long Course provincial championships for swimmers who train all year. The Orcas had several swimmers very close to qualifying for this meet so a time trail was organized this past Monday for a last chance to qualify. Three swimmers took advantage of the opportunity and qualified for the meet. The Orcas have six swimmers qualified to race against year round swimmers, which is a real testament to how talented some of the swimmers are considering they only train for three and a half months in the year. Five of the qualified Orcas, Rachel Tkach, Amy Benzie, Ami Tipper, Melia Tipper, and Keeley Hopkins, will be making the trip to Fort McMurray to compete on the Canada Day weekend.

Ami Tipper & Keely Hopkins (above) will join Amy Benzie, Rachel Tkach and Melia Tipper on the ASSA All Star Team

JUNE 6TH, 2011

The Lethbridge Orcas Summer Swim Club had another successful weekend in the pool. The Orcas took top spot in the overall team points this past Saturday in Pincher Creek. The club had sixty-four swimmers in attendance. Leading the way for the Lethbridge Orcas was senior swimmer Rachel Tkach who broke her own Provincial Record in the Girls 15-17 50m Backstroke - a very rare feat for this early in the summer swimming season. That swim simultaneously qualified Rachel for the provincial All Star Team that will compete in Fort McMurray in July. Rachel is one of seventeen Orca swimmers who took home an aggregate medal. Included in the aggregate medals were Orca "sweeps" of the Girls 8 & Under, Girls 13/14 and Girls 15-17 Categories. The Lethbridge swimmers will compete in Taber this Saturday, in hopes to win their 18th consecutive Regional Meet.

Aggregate Medals Winners included:
Harison Isfeld Gold, Darci Wright Bronze, Katja Mueller Silver, Charlotte Vanden Elzen Gold, Macey Fuller Gold, Sara Copps Bronze, Keeley Watt Bronze, Elizabeth Pedersen Silver, Keely Hopkins Gold,  Owen Guyn Bronze, Melia Tipper Bronze, Brooke French Bronze, Rachel Tkach Silver, Ami Tipper Gold, James Kwan Silver, Barrett McMillan Gold, Carlee Morris Silver.

Reilly Callahan, Taylor Callahan, Hailey Imeson, Carson Mellow, Kasson Nelson, Paul Vanden Elzen and Shaelyne Williamson did an excellent job representing the Orcas as their first ever swim meet.

Rachel Tkach, Provincial Record Holder



MAY 30TH, 2011

It was quite an outstanding weekend for the Lethbridge Orcas as they attended the first swim meet of the season in Brooks on Friday and Saturday May.27/28. After being going the entire 2010 season undefeated, the Orcas continued this trend in 2011 with a dominating team performance. The Orcas won both the gross and net scoring titles at the meet - a rare feat in the summer swimming circuit. The Orcas scored 681 points beating the next closest team by over 400 points. Ami Tipper and Amy Benzie attained times that automatically qualified them for the ASSA Provincial All Star Team that will compete in Fort McMurray in July. Meredith Franks, Solanah McDonald, Macey Fuller and Chayce McDonald admirably represented the Orcas for their very first time.

 The following swimmers collected aggregate medals in their respective age categories:

Harison Isfeld Boys 6&U - Silver, Macey Fuller-Girls 11/12 - Gold, Amy Benzie- Girls 11/12- Bronze, Colm Guyn- Boys 11-12 - Bronze, Elizabeth Pedersen Girls 13/14 - Gold, Keely Hopkins Girls 13/14—Gold, Melia Tipper - Girls 15-17 - Bronze, Ami Tipper - Girls 15-17- Silver, Rachel Tkach - Girls 15-17 - Gold , James Kwan - Boys 15-17- Silver, Carlee Morris- Girls 18 & Over- Sillver

The Orcas look to extend their “regular season” winning streak to 17 consecutive  wins at the Pincher Creek Dolphin Invitational on June 3rd and 4th.

First Practice of the 2011 Summer Swimming Season:

Monday May 2nd at 6:00 PM
Fritz Sick Pool
420-11 St South
Lethbridge, AB

2011 Swim Meet Schedule
Brooks Swim Meet - May 28, 2011
Pincher Swim Meet - June 4, 2011
Taber Swim Meet - June 11, 2011
Claresholm Swim Meet - June 18, 2011
Calgary Swordfish Meet - June 25, 2011
Medicine Hat - Summer Games - July 8-9, 20