Aileen Humphreys is hoping to swim herself to the next level — and fast.
Local girl Humphreys, 12, is a member of Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club, which recently returned from the Island Pacific Cup meet.
The event was held between Nov. 8 and Nov. 10 at Saanich Commonwealth Pool.
“It was a higher level meet,” said Humphreys’ coach Dusan Toth-Szabo, who explained the competitors involved needed to swim a certain time to qualify for a place in the Island Pacific Cup. “It was Aileen’s first time ever at this level.”
Humphreys finished sixth in the 100-metre fly final after qualifying from the same position earlier in her preliminary round.
Toth-Szabo explained swimmers need to make the top eight in the preliminary to advance to the final.
Humphreys swam a time of 1:19.19 to qualify and bettered that in the final, swimming 1:18.24.
“Even though it was her first time ever at this level, she’s already got two top eight swims,” said the coach. “And overall, she’s a AA swimmer right now but very close to AAA. Hopefully she’s going to make it there.”
Humphreys competed in the 13 and under category at the Island Pacific Cup in the AA section.
To make it up to AAA standard, she has to reach a time of 1:15.41.
“Every year as you’re getting older, there are different standards, so every year, you have to qualify,” said Toth-Szabo.
This year, Swim BC changed the age group categories for swim meets so it is two age groups together, thus making Humphreys one of the youngest in her section.
Previously, she and others would only compete against swimmers of the same age.
“Since Aileen just turned 12, it’s a little harder for her to make 13-year-old qualification time, but she’s really close,” said the coach. “Hopefully during the year as she progresses, she will make it [to the next level]. She’s always here [at the pool] and she works hard.”
Asked what he must do as a coach to get Humphreys to AAA, Toth-Szabo said, “I consider all four strokes equally important, so I do not specialize these youngsters by saying they’re a breaststroker and that’s what their focus is, or they’re a sprinter and that’s what their focus is.
“We consider all four strokes equally important here, and distance also. Of course there are going to be events that are better for you than others, but I want to give them good basics and a good foundation, and then specialization a little bit later.”
Another part of the Island Pacific Cup weekend was the Jamboree contest that Toth-Szabo says is designed “more for developmental swimmers.”
Rising star Shane Valic, 12, competed in five events including 12 and over 100-metre individual medley, 50-metre fly, 50-metre back, 50-metre breast and 50-metre free.
Valic finished first in all of his events, setting four club records in the process.
“Boys normally play hockey and girls do swimming, so Shane’s a real example,” said Toth-Szabo.
“He’s also had three other club records this year so it shows that if you’re willing to put the work in, you’ll get results.”