Nearly 50 young swimmers from the Pacific Sea Wolves squared off against hundreds of other athletes from across the province earlier this month, without ever having to leave their home pool.
The South Surrey swim club – which is back training at the recently reopened Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre – participated recently in the Swim BC Divisional Championships, alongside swimmers from 15 other teams in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island.
The event saw swimmers race specific events during their own clubs’ pool time, and the results were sent to Swim BC, which compared them all and determined winners.
Pacific Sea Wolves scooped a few dozen medals, led by Brielle Woodruff, who won four gold and four silver, and 10-year-old Matthew Cao, who won eight medals in total – two gold, one silver and five bronze – while also breaking eight PSW club records in the 10-and-under age category, including the mark in the 400-m individual medley which had stood for 13 years, PSW head coach Jy Lawrence told Peace Arch News.
L.J. Liu also broke one club record in the 10-and-under boys division.
The Sea Wolves finished second overall among the 15 clubs, a “strong showing” that Lawrence said was made more impressive by the fact that PSW did not compete in relays, as many other clubs did, because they can’t currently do relays in their space at the Grandview pool.
Due to the way the pool is currently split up among user groups at Grandview – due to COVID-19 protocols – Lawrence noted that her swimmers did not use starting blocks for their swims, either.
“The fact that our kids are putting up these kinds of times while they’re just diving off the edge of the pool makes things even cooler,” she said.
In addition to Cao and Woodruff, other medallists included Katherine Toy (four gold, one silver); Edison Liu (one gold, three bronze); Emma Lawson (one gold, one silver); Alex Chernomorchenko (one gold, one silver, one bronze); Elina Huang (two silver); Anastasia Cimiliuc (two silver); Cyan Ni (one silver, two bronze); Darby Walsh (one silver, one bronze); Molly Zhang (one silver, one bronze); Chelsea Zhou (one silver, one bronze) and Alex Guo (one bronze).
Lawrence said within the club, they’ve been holding race days once per month, but it was a nice change for swimmers to see how they stack up against others in something resembling – at least a little bit – a traditional meet.
That said, she noted the virtual format was also good for swimmers who don’t necessarily thrive under the bright lights of a large, in-person event.
“You have some kids who really need the competition and need to race, and they’ve been suffering a little bit,” she said. “But also, there’s no pressure and some of the kids feel a lot of pressure in a competition… but this is just in practice. They don’t feel any big build-up of stress.”
Next up for PSW swimmers are provincials – which again, will be held virtually, with clubs submitting their swimmers’ best times. Provincial races begin Monday (March 29) and will wrap up by April 6, Lawrence said.