Almost half of the Squamish Pirates swim team that took part in this weekend’s home meet will be heading to Coquitlam later this month for the provincials.
Of the 43 team members that competed in the event, which determined qualifying berths for the provincials, 21 swam times that landed them in the final event for the summer swim season.
“I think everybody swam faster,” coach Kelly Kaye said. “We’ve been swimming fastest times all year… They’re starting to learn what they are capable of.”
Even with so many strong results throughout the season, the coach was impressed that so many Pirates were able to put together best times for the penultimate meet.
For many new competitors, the season has brought with it a steady learning curve, as the coach said that many were not able to post times to get in the finals early on.
“Most of the kids at our first meet weren’t in the top six,” Kaye said.
For the provincial qualifying meet, the Pirates hosted five other teams from the region this Saturday and Sunday, as hundred of swimmers and their supporters converged on the pool at Brennan Park.
The visiting clubs were the North Shore Winter Club Marlins, North Vancouver Cruisers, Vancouver Super Sharks and the Vancouver Vikings.
As far as the most surprising results for the locals, Kaye pointed to one of the younger groups on the Pirates.
“Our Div. 2 boys were really strong this weekend,” she said.
For the meet finals, which ran Sunday afternoon, there were several notable performances, such as Ryan Sweeny in the Div. 1 boys backstroke, who finished his heat well ahead of the competition.
In the Div. 7 girls backstroke, Alex Jevons, also a coach with the Pirates, was able to overcome a slippery start that cost her a couple of seconds and put her behind the first lap to come back to win the heat.
Along with Sweeny and Jevons, other Pirates members that qualified were: Evangeline Gultiano, Madeleine Lawton, Ceilidh Lawton, Catarina Fenton, Gurnoor Tatla, Jamie Gultiano, Jains Jose, Joy Jose, Ada Strangway, Kade Winstanley, Brian McDonald, Lukas Buck, Kaz Kinney, Mees Haddeman, Mikayla Lorimer, Eli Tindall, Brandon Cheal, Oli Jarrett and coach Kaye, herself.
One of highlights from the weekend was the team relay, which turned the pool into a bandbox of cheering, chanting and clapping fans. Some even leaned over the back wall for a glimpse at which swimmers took first in the closest races.
At the end of the day on Sunday, for the boys Div. 8 relay, the local team included a couple of youngsters – Jonas Gaces and Riley Fenton – being given a chance to swim with the “big boys.” Even though the young swimmers swam their legs much more slowly than their much older counterparts, it did not stop the onlookers and other swimmers from offering support in the form of cheers, or even high fives, when each of the young swimmers finished.
For the upcoming provincials, the Pirates will be fine-tuning aspects such as turns and finishes.
“Our big focus will be on the skills,” Kaye said.
The provincials will take place from Aug. 18 to 21 at Spani Pool in Coquitlam. The first day will allow swimmers to tune up before the competition starts on day two.