The Hope RiverMonsters are making steady growth as a competitive summer swim club — as shown by the number of athletes they are sending to the provincial championships.
“We sent one in 2017, two in 2018 — and now seven in 2019,” said club president, Catherine Freimark, Tuesday.
The B.C. Summer Swimming Association’s provincials run this weekend in Kamloops. Heading up Highway #5 will be Violette Freimark, Eli Reist, Sonia Au-Yeung, Danika Hope, Avery Loring and brothers Ivan and Michael Lipnitskiy.
The Lipnitskiys train with North Vancouver’s Chena Swim club but spend their summers in Hope with their grandparents. Due to their extra winter training, they have to swim in the open category at all summer meets. Micheal will compete in the “O” category Div. 2 50-metre free, 100 breast-stroke, 100 free and 200 I.M. Ivan earned his way into the Div. 1 50-metre butterfly, back and breast-stroke. Both will swim in the 4×50 regional 4×50 medley.
“Eli is going for the 50-metre back-stroke, 50 butterfly, 50 breast-stroke and 100-metre freestyle,” said Freimark, whose husband Mike is the head coach.
“Violette is going for the 100 free — where she is ceded first in the province — the 50 free, 50 back and 50 fly,” said Freimark, “and Eli and Violette were chosen from among the best swimmers in the region, to swim in the medley relays. Both will swim the back-stroke in their 4×50 races.”
But there’s more. Being a small club, the RiverMonsters have never had enough swimmers in one age class, to put together a team of four for a relay. They’ve had to cobble together younger swimmers, who are willing to join older teammates in the older division.
“Danika Hope and Avery Loring are in Division 4, Violette is in Div. 3 and Sonia Au-Yeung is in Div. 2,” said Freimark. “We couldn’t have competed, if Sonia wasn’t brave enough to swim up in Div. 4 — but we came second in the 4×50 freestyle.” That gives the four girls a berth in the provincials.
“Other amazing results were Alistair Wilson and Ayesha Malang making alternates for the Provincial Championships,” said Freimark. Both swimmers didn’t end up getting ‘called up’ but it is a serious achievement to have made it to being the top 5 swimmers in the region.
As well: Isobel Polishak took 27 seconds off her time in 100-metre freestyle (1:44.315), Avery Loring took off 6 seconds in the 100 breast-stroke (1:37.575) and Violette Freimark shaved 2 seconds off her personal best in the 100 freestyle (1:01.555)
This season, head coach Mike Freimark and assistant Ben Reist got extra help from students Verena Brysch and Emma and Darby Link, who were each hired for 8 weeks of 30 hours per week. Funding came from the federal governments’ Canada Summer Job Grant.
“They helped at three practices per week and attended a majority of our nine swim meets,” said the club president. “They could communicate on a different level with the youngsters and get in the water to work with them.
“Emma even jumped in the water, fully clothed, at a swim meet,” said Freimark, laughing.
A young swimmer had said she was good to swim the full 25 metres on her own — but it soon became clear that she was struggling.
“Emma kicked off her shoes, Mike had her phone and I had her glasses — and away she went, swimming the whole length in her clothes.”
The RiverMonsters held a potluck picnic at Kawkawa Lake, Wednesday afternoon, to wrap up the season and give the provincial contenders a good send-off.