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Pirates demonstrate power in the pool

The 36 members of the Squamish Pirates have been working on three key ingredients all season.

The 36 members of the Squamish Pirates have been working on three key ingredients all season.

This past weekend, they decided to mix them all together inside the lanes of the pool at Brennan Park for one wicked recipe, and it proved to be quite a powerful concoction.

Displaying equal amounts of the hard work, determination and commitment, the Pirates managed their best-ever regional swim meet performance, with a record 27 out of 36 swimmers qualifying for the provincial championships in two weeks' time.

"They've been committed throughout the whole year," said Pirates head coach Kelly Kaye. "Their attitude and hard work have been excellent - it's a very tight team."

The Pirates were the meet underdogs with the smallest number of swimmers in the competition, but instead of letting it weigh them down, they used it to their advantage. "They swam great in their own pool," said Kaye. "We were the smallest team there and the girls still managed to win third overall, which is excellent considering the other teams have three times as many swimmers."

Having home-pool advantage was a deciding factor in their performance, as almost every Pirates swimmer posted their best swim times in their respective races.

"They did amazing,' said Kaye. "We had a whole picnic table full of medals - definitely our top performance ever as a team."

Division One swimmer Jessica Johnstone, 8, set two meet records, including a long-standing record set by a swimmer now on Canada's national team. In the 50-metre butterfly, Johnstone powered past the competition to set a record with a time of 41.79 and followed that up by beating the long-standing mark in the 50-metre backstroke with an explosive time of 43.13.

The Division Four girls freestyle relay team, consisting of the 'Ryan's Angels' team members - Jessica Johnstone, Brielle Mulholland, Ebony Grant, Deven Bane-Allen - also set a meet record for their strong team performance in the 200-metre freestyle relay.

Inside the pool, non-stop action occupied every minute of every hour for two straight days. Every square inch of the entrance foyer to the pool at Brennan Park was covered with tarps, blankets and sleeping bags, as more than 420 swimmers from five different North Shore and Lower Mainland swim clubs set up rest spots inside the building to relax during the hundreds of races over the weekend. More than 80 volunteers helped to orchestrate the mammoth logistical undertaking that characterizes swim meets of this size.

For the 27 swimmers who qualified for the provincial championships in Burnaby, they'll have two weeks to prepare and train for more medals - and coach Kaye like their chances.

"Not only are we sending a lot of swimmers but they all have a good chance at getting a medal. They'll do great."

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