The Bulkley Valley Otters had the smallest squad by far at the North West Regional Swimming Championships last weekend in Prince Rupert, but all nine of the swimmers posted top three finishes in their individual events for one of the best team performances in recent years.
Ten-year-old Kanna Kurihara led the team with four first place performances. On the way she set four club records, in the 50, 100, and 200 backstroke as well as the 200 butterfly events.
For good measure she added second place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 200 breaststroke. She received the silver medal in the 11 and under girls category for her efforts as well.
Video of Kanna showing how it’s done:
On the senior boys side, River Stokes-deYoung, 16, dominated the medley races winning both the 200 and 400 distances and taking the 200 breaststroke as well. He was third in the 100 and 400 freestyle races. He received the bronze medal for overall performance.
Butterfly expert Fergus Hobson, 16, demonstrated skill and patience as he came from behind in both the 100 and 200 distances of the discipline. In the 50-metre distance, he was out touched at the finish.
“I don’t want to make any excuses but I had just swam two other races about five minutes before that and when I dove in, my goggles filled with water,” he said. “I don’t think I can be too disappointed with it.”
Hobson was also runner-up to Stoke-deYoung in the 200 medley.
Breaststroker Jean-Luc Belanger, 15, recovering from a bout of flu that limited his training, dug down deep for solid second place finishes in the 100 breast and 100 medley races.
Stokes-deYoung, Hobson, and Belanger combined with Konrad Thummerer for second place relay results in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle events.
Coach Tom Best was especially pleased with the performances of two of the swimmers.
“Here’s a couple of kids who have worked very hard at improving their swimming. A year ago they would not be top 10 in the age group and now they are in the top three. I’m really proud of them,” he said.
Byron Greene, 12, was a close second in the 200 butterfly, generally considered to be one of the most demanding swims in the sport.
Claire McAulay, 11, added a second in the 200 freestyle and thirds in the 25 butterfly and 50 backstroke.
Swimming in the 11 and under category, the squad’s youngest members Kaede Kurihara, 7, and Billy Flint, 9, showed their determination and skill to place third in their respective 25 breaststroke races.
In all, the team posted 53 scoring swims with well over 50 per cent personal best times.
“Every swimmer contributed to our team score and didn’t let our small team numbers hold them back. They showed fantastic skill and determination in every race,” said Best.
Overall the team ranked third for the meet.
The team will host a regional meet Feb. 24 and 25.
– Submitted by the Bulkley Valley Otters.