As the long-course season gets underway, members of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club are improving their times by impressive numbers with each meet.
Early last month, Faith Knelson competed in the 2014 Canadian Swimming Trials April 1-5 in Saanich. This is the first time Knelson went to this meet, which is a trial for the Pan-Pacific and Commonwealth Games.
“You need to have a national time standard,” explained coach Dusan Toth-Szabo. “Faith went for the first time ever and was eligible for three events. This is a high-level meet, with Olympians, adults and everybody from 108 clubs all over Canada.”
Competing against seniors, the 12-year-old competed in the 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke and 50m freestyle, shaving time off in each swim. She swam the 100m breaststroke in 1:14.44 to finish 27th, and she finished 25th in the 50m breaststroke with a time of 33.94. Knelson swam the 50m free in 28.15 in to finish 60th.
Some of the club’s youngest swimmers took part in the Spring Splash April 6 in Courtenay.
“It was fun,” said coach Aisha Alsop. “It was mostly little kids, and we had two older boys, Shane Valic and Noah Herle, who took off lots of time. “
Alsop was impressed that Aiden Jeffries, swimming in his first year, took 11 seconds off his 50m freestyle time. She also highlighted Grace Dice’s performance in the 50m breaststroke and 50m butterfly, improving her time by more than five seconds.
Nine swimmers competed in the Spring Splash.
“The kids did great,” said Alsop. “Everyone did really, really well. It was lots of fun.”
Grace Dice, Joshua Herle, Noah Herle, Aiden Jeffries, Lily Martin, Cole Porter, Shane Valic, Gabriel Wiebe and Isabella Wiebe represented the Orcas in Courtenay, earning 26 top-three finishes.
At this meet, Valic, who is 13, finished first in all his events, winning the 400m freestyle, 50m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 100m freestyle and 100m individual medley.
Nine-year-old Joshua Herle finished first in the 25m breaststroke, while Noah Herle, 12, won the 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley.
Jeffries won the 50m freestyle and 25m backstroke, and Gabriel Wiebe, who is seven, came first in the 50m backstroke.
The Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas travelled to Nanaimo April 12-13 to compete in the first annual NRST Spring Invitational, the first long-course meet of the season.
“We had 12 swimmers, and we had tons of best times,” said Toth-Szabo. “Usually, the first long-course meet is kind of iffy because they never swim in a long-course 50m pool. Even though it was the first one, we had 53 best times.”
Toth-Szabo highlighted swimmers Chantal Greenhalgh, Shane Valic and Brielle Woodruff, who earned personal best times in every single event they swam.
At this meet, many swimmers improved their times by huge amounts.
Aileen Humphreys took 34.48 seconds off her time in the 200m backstroke, while Chantal Greenhalgh took 15.52 seconds off her time in the 200m free and 11.58 seconds off her 200m individual medley time.
Morgan Humphreys improved his 50m breaststroke time by 10.68 seconds and improved his 50m backstroke time by 13.48 seconds.
Brielle Woodruff took 14.81 seconds off her time in the 100m backstroke.
Valic qualified for the AA provincial championships after earning his second age group standard at this meet.
In Nanaimo, Greenhalgh, who is 11, won two of her events, finishing first in the 200m individual medley and in the 100m breaststroke.
Noah Herle finished first in the 50m backstroke.
Aileen Humphreys earned three first-place finishes, winning the 200m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke and 100m breaststroke.
Morgan Humphreys was first in the 400m freestyle, while Valic won the 100m breaststroke and the 50m breaststroke.
Courtney Chanin, Grade Dice, Chantal Greenhalgh, Noah Herle, Aileen Humphreys, Morgan Humphreys, Aiden Jeffries, Cecilia Johnson, Pamela Little, Morgan McKenzie, Shane Valic and Brielle Woodruff competed in this meet, earning a combined 31 top-three finishes.
The Orcas’ most recent meet was the Wavemaker April 25-27 in Victoria.
Nine swimmers took part in that meet, and there were many highlights for the Orcas.
Knelson finished first in all 11 of her swims.
Aileen Humphreys earned her first age group national time standard for 12-year-old girls in the 50m breaststroke and also improved her times in all 12 swims.
Woodruff had an 11-and-under provincial AA time standard in the 50m breaststroke even though she’s only 10.
At this meet, the club was represented by Chantal Greenhalgh, Noah Herle, Aileen Humphreys, Morgan Humphreys, Faith Knelson, Pamela Little, Morgan McKenzie, Shane Valic and Brielle Woodruff. The nine swimmers earned a total of 10 top-three finishes.