Faith Knelson returned from the 2013 Swim BC AAA Long Course Championships July 7 laden with gold and silver.
The 11-year-old phenom competed in a total of seven events at the provincial long course championships — hosted at the UBC Aquatic Centre in Vancouver July 4-7 — earning herself six gold medals, one silver medal, two meet records and six Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club records in the process.
Knelson propelled herself to first-place finishes in the Female 11-and-Under category in 50 and 100 Freestyle, 100 and 200 Breast, 100 Fly and 200 IM while earning herself a lone silver in 100 Back.
Knelson’s time of 28.84 in 50 Free and her 1:17.33 performance in 100 Breast earned her two BC AAA Championships records in addition to six new Orcas’ club records for girls aged 11-12.
Prior to her AAA Championships performance, Knelson earned herself a total of nine medals at the Vancouver Island Regional Long Course Championships June 7-9 in Saanich.
Knelson led the Orcas with six gold, two silver and one bronze medal, while Orcas teammate Shane Valic, 12, earned a bronze medal in 100 Breast.
Knelson and Valic’s teammates Courtney Chanin, 15, and Pamela Little, 13, shaved time off personal bests in every single event they competed in.
Meanwhile, Chanin earned her first AA qualifying time in 50 Free as teammate Noah Herle, 11, surpassed the AA threshold in both 50 and 100 Free.
Chanin was unable to attend the Swim BC AA Championships in Saanich June 21-23, Orcas coach Dusan Toth-Szabo said, leaving Herle and Valic as the Orcas’ sole representatives at Saanich Commonwealth Place.
Valic competed in four events, earning himself a silver medal in 100 Fly, while Herle earned himself a personal best in 100 Breast — one of five events he competed in.
While Valic and Herle were competing in Saanich, the Orcas’ youngest club members wrapped up their season at the June Jamboree 2013 at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
Orcas coach Aisha Alsop and 10 Orcas swimmers competed in the one-day meet June 22 that saw a handful of the club’s youngest swimmers compete for the first time, while more seasoned club members experimented with events they rarely swim in competition.
“It was another fun, exciting meet,” Alsop said.
With the exception of Knelson, the Orcas have wrapped up their 2012-13 swim season and won’t return to the pool until Sept. 9, Alsop said.
Knelson is scheduled to compete at the Canadian Age Group Championships in Montreal July 24-29 where she’ll compete in the 12-and-Under age group rather than as an 11-year-old.
Being a year younger than most of her competition places Knelson at a slight disadvantage, but that hasn’t stopped the Orcas’ lone nationally-ranked swimmer from qualifying for a total of eight events.
Knelson — currently ranked second overall for 12-and-Under in 50 and 100 Breast and sixth in 50 Free — said she’s “nervous, excited, confident and hoping to win a couple of golds.”
“And if I step it up a notch, I might medal in 200 Breast,” Knelson added.