Hosting the highest level of swimming competition for the region, the Duncan Stingrays had an exceptionally strong showing at the Vancouver Island Region Short Course Championships over the final weekend of January.
Overall, the team achieved personal bests at an 86.4 per cent clip.
“For context, our typical Team PB average hovers around 60 per cent,” head coach Leanne Sirup explained. “In other words, our swimmers did phenomenal! They used the familiarity of the facility to their best benefit and showed the rest of the region that when they race the Stingrays they can expect a great competitor beside them.
Eight Stingrays swimmers achieved 100 per cent personal best times at the meet: Sophia Atashband, Teagan Dunaway, Gabe Gerbrandt, Sam Gerbrandt, Evan Hales, Olivia Matthews, Matthew Ruiter and Kate Schultz.
Angus Preston, Ayla Graham and Nina Lempinen all posted personal bests in all but one of their races, while Ryca Stiwich had four PBs and Yelaina Franco had three.
Nearly 300 swimmers from across Vancouver Island attended the meet, the first regional championships in two years. Still adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, the event was divided into two age groups — 12 and under, 13 and over — with timed finals, instead of having preliminaries and finals for every event.
Stingrays swimmers climbed the rankings in two out of every three races they entered over the course of the weekend. Five swimmers — both Gerbrandts, Ruiter and Schultz, as well as Malcolm Blackburn — moved up in the rankings in all of their races, and passed their competitors at every opportunity available.
Medallists at the meet included Wyland Dumont (bronze in the 1500m freestyle), Anna Fairweather (bronze in the 200m freestyle), Sam Gerbrandt (bronze in the 100m butterfly), Teddy James (gold in the 100m butterfly), Kailie MacGregor (bronze in the 1500m freestyle), Lauchlin MacGregor (bronze in the 400m freestyle and 400m IM), and Waylin MacGregor (bronze in the 50m backstroke and 100m breaststroke).
A total of 10 swimmers set provincial or divisional qualifying times in their respective age groups.
Three posted Swim BC Provincial QTs: Anna Fairweather, 14, in the 100m and 200m backstroke; Teddy James, 11, in the 50m backstroke; and Lauchlin MacGregor, 11, in the 88m freestyle.
And seven posted Fraser Valley & Vancouver Island Divisional QTs: Wyland Dumont, 12, in the 100m and 200m freestyle; Gabe Gerbrandt, 13, in the 50m backstroke and 200m butterfly; Sam Gerbrandt, 12, in the 100m and 200m breaststroke; Evan Hales, 14, in the 400m freestyle and 200m backstroke; Kailie MacGregor, 13, in the 100m and 1500m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 100m and 200m breaststroke, and 400m IM; Kate Schultz, 14, in the 100m breaststroke; and Ryca Stiwich, 14, in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m and 200m breaststroke, and 200m IM.
Volunteer meet managers Trisha O’Halloran and Pierre Graham and officials coordinator Lisa Helmer guided the event, while Peninsula Co-op, Duncan Hyundai, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Municipality of North Cowichan and Government of B.C. were among the many sponsors.
“It takes the entire community to run an event of this calibre and magnitude and we’re so pleased that the Cowichan Valley has supported us in this endeavour,” Sirup said.