It was a tough weekend after only a few weeks back in the pool after spring break but members of the Bulkley Valley Otters came through with a strong performance at their first long course meet of the season, scoring five first places at the Prince George Dental Moose Meet last weekend.
In addition, they notched up 13 second places and seven thirds at the highly competitive event.
More than 250 swimmers representing nine teams from northern B.C. and Alberta made their way to the Prince George Aquatic Centre for the three-day competition.
Ten-year-olds Zachary Durnin and Kanna Kurihara led the way as they swam in the largest segment of the meet.
Durnin was the top swimmer in the 100 butterfly and added seconds in the 50 fly, the 50 back, the 100 freestyle, and the demanding 200 medley. In addition, he was on the winning medley and freestyle relays for the Points North all-star squad. He topped off his weekend with a third place in the 50 freestyle. His performance in the 200 individual medley was good enough for a special silver medal in that race.
Kurihara continued to show her strength in the pool as she took the 100 freestyle to go with second places in the 200 individual medley, 200 free, 100 back and 100 butterfly. For good measure she added a third in the 100 breaststroke.
She was awarded silver medals for her strong accomplishments in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM. She added a second place on the 10 and under girls 200 medley relay and a third in the 200 freestyle relay.
She was selected by the coaching staff to replace an ill team member on the girls senior 200 freestyle team, which went on to finish third.
An unexpected first place finish came from 16-year-old Fergus Hobson as he came from behind to take the demanding senior boys 200 butterfly.
Liam Belanger, 12, turned a few heads as he had his best placings of the years with a second in the 200 butterfly and a pair of thirds in the 50 breaststroke and the 100 freestyle.
Head coach Tom Best was optimistic about the performances that the team put on over the weekend.
“We’ve only been back in the water a couple of weeks after the spring break and there is the reality of dealing with the flu that so many of the kids have had to deal with,” he said.
He was also pleased with the overall performance of the team, in particular it’s youngest members.
“Kaede (Kurihara) was the strongest eight-year-old and Milana (Anokhina) was the strongest seven-year-old in the entire meet. They don’t over train and the congratulations has to go to their everyday coach Cassie Horning Wandler. She’s done a great job with all of the youngsters she works with,” he said.
In addition, Best said that River Stokes-DeYoung, Liam Belanger and Konrad Thummerer may not have had top three individual finishes but they helped the senior boys relays to second and third place finishes in the medley and freestyle disciplines.
The team next heads to Kitimat for a regional competition on May 4-6.
–Submitted by the Bulkley Valley Otters.