More than 300 of the fastest swimmers from Vancouver Island and the Yukon will gather at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre this week as the Duncan Stingrays host the Vancouver Island Short Course Championships.
The competition will run from Thursday to Sunday, beginning with distance events on Thursday evening, followed by heats and finals on Friday and Saturday, and finishing up with timed finals on Sunday morning.
Also known as the Vancouver Island Regionals, the meet rotates between a few clubs on the Island, and has been hosted by the Stingrays at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in 2010 and 2014.
“It’s certainly our biggest event,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup said.
The swimmers at VIRs will be looking to qualify for the Tier I and Tier II provincials. The tiering system has replaced the old A, AA and AAA format, beginning this year.
“It used to be divide by skill level,” Sirup explained. “Now it’s done by age.”
Tier I is for boys ages 13 and under and girls 12 and under, and Tier II is for boys and girls 18 and under. In order to qualify, swimmers need qualifying times in the 200m individual medley, demonstrating their versatility, and one other event.
Just last weekend, at a meet in Campbell River, two Stingrays, 10-year-old Ryca Stiwich and 12-year-old Koen Hales, qualified for Tier I provincials.
“We have six or eight swimmers who have already qualified from last year, but these are our two most recent, and this is their first time ever,” Sirup explained.
The Stingrays are hoping to add more qualifiers this weekend. The host club has qualified 29 swimmers to compete.