Whether it’s a provincial or regional meet, members of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club are making a name for themselves with fast times and strong finishes.
Orcas Faith Knelson and Aileen Humphreys, who are both 13, recently returned from the Swim BC AAA Age Group Championships March 5-7 in Surrey and the Swim BC Senior Open March 8-9 in Vancouver.
At the provincials, Knelson won four gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze, medalling in every single event she swam.
Knelson won golds in the 200m individual medley, 200m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke and 100m breaststroke, and she was second in the 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle. She also finished third in the 100m backstroke. She set new personal best times in the 200m individual medley, 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle.
“I wasn’t tapered for provincials, so I knew I wasn’t going to have the best times in everything,” she said.
Humphreys advanced to the finals in three events at provincials — the 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke. She finished sixth in the 50m breaststroke and seventh in the 100m breaststroke.
Humphreys was happy that she took some time off two of her swims, and she felt she did much better underwater.
“Overall, she had a really good BC Open and Provincials,” Knelson said of her teammate. “She worked really hard, and it was great to have her as a teammate, cheering me on. We were in all the breaststroke event finals together, and in one event, we were the only teammates in the finals.”
At the Swim BC Senior Open March 8-9 at UBC Aquatic Centre, Knelson and Humphreys both swam in the Female 18 & Under category.
Knelson made the A finals in all of her swims. She was fourth in the 100m breaststroke and the 50m freestyle and fifth in the 50m breaststroke and the 100m freestyle.
“For me, BC Open was a great experience,” said Knelson. “I got to race a former Olympian, Tara Van Beilen. I learned a lot from just racing against her in the 1,500m. Having her as competition was very intense, and I was so nervous to begin with. It was a great experience, and what I really took away from it was working hard to get where she is, to be like her and be as fast and talented as her.”
Humphreys made the B finals in 50m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke.
“I was really nervous, but I was happy too that I could get those times and be able to race against older swimmers,” she said
Earlier in the month, nine Orcas took part in the Spring Break Invitational Feb. 28 to March 1 in Duncan.
Thirteen-year-old Louise Wong took 27.03 seconds off her time in the 100m individual medley to finish third. She also took 11 seconds off her time in the 200m breaststroke and in the 100m freestyle.
Hubert Wong, 14, won the 50m breaststroke and the 100m breaststroke, and he had new personal bests in five of his six events.
Shane Valic, who is also 14, finished in the top five in all his events. He was second in the 100m breaststroke, third in the 50m butterfly and fifth in the 100m backstroke and the 50m freestyle.
Thirteen-year-old Kyele Murray took 6.26 seconds off his time in the 100m backstroke to finish third, and he was third in the 50m free with a new personal best time.
Seven-year-old Aiden Jeffries finished first or second in all his events.
He won the 100m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 50m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and the 50m freestyle. He improved his time in the 50m breaststroke by a whole 8.90 seconds and took 5.07 seconds off his time in the 50m freestyle and 2.04 seconds off his time in the 100m breaststroke.
This was 11-year-old Breanne King’s first swim meet ever, and she competed in the 100m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke.
Chantal Greenhalgh, 12, had new personal best times in five of her six events, and she finished third in the 50m butterfly and fourth in the 50m breaststroke.
Ten-year-old Grace Dice took 5.26 seconds off her time in the 50m breaststroke.
Paris Jany, who is 11, took 6.86 seconds off her time in the 50m free and 6.70 seconds off her time in the 50m breaststroke. She also had a new best time in the 50m backstroke by shaving 2.48 seconds off her time, and she was fourth in the 50m breaststroke and the 100m individual medley.
“Paris, who is newly competitive, did phenomenal for how long she’s been swimming,” said coach Aria Mac Coll. “She’s picked up all the skills she needs to win.”
Jany felt “pretty good” about her meet. She says competitions make her nervous, but she also finds them fun.
“They also make you feel very excited inside because you don’t know what you’re going to do,” she said. “You don’t know if you’re going to win or lose, but my mom always says ‘swim it hard.’ When you are finally on that block, your heart is pounding. You feel very nervous. It’s fun doing them though. I really like them.”
Mac Coll was impressed with Dice’s technique in the breaststroke.
The coach also thought Jeffries did “extremely well,” particularly because he was competing against older swimmers.
“I’m really happy with them all, and they’re hard workers too,” said Mac Coll. “They’re competitive, and they want to be here, so that’s really helped them.”