McKinley Thomas-Perry and Bridget Burton with two of their gold medals from the BC Summer Games relays. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Duncan Stingrays swimmers at home in the pool during BC Games

Bridget Burton, McKinley Thomas-Perry, Mary Paridaen van Veen combine to win eight medals for Island

A trio of Duncan Stingrays swimmers combined to collect eight medals in their home pool at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

Mary Paridaen van Veen won gold in the girls 200m butterfly and silver in the 100m fly, Bridget Burton won gold in the girls 100m backstroke and bronze in the 50m freestyle, and McKinley Thomas-Perry won silver in both the girls 100m and 200m breaststroke. Additionally, Burton and Thomas-Perry both swam lengths for the first-place Zone 6 girls 4x50m freestyle and medley relay teams, who also claimed gold.

“It was a really good opportunity to represent the Stingrays,” Thomas-Perry said. “It was fun to swim against people we had never seen before.”

“And to be part of a team with people we usually swim against,” Burton added

The team atmosphere at the Summer Games was particularly enjoyable for the swimmers, who said they made lots of new friends.

“It was different than a usual meet because you weren’t racing for yourself; you were racing for your team,” Thomas-Perry said. “It’s a different atmosphere than we’re used to.”

“It felt good to stand on the podium with all the people from Zone 6 cheering for you,” Burton noted.

With the Games lasting only three days, the team came together quickly.

“On the first day, we were only hanging out with people we knew,” Thomas-Perry said. “But by the end, it was like we had been together for years.”

The relays provided the highlights of the meet for both Burton and Thomas-Perry, who hadn’t previously swum relays with any of their BC Games teammates, but found chemistry immediately.

“You had to count on your teammate, that they know what they’re doing, both touching the wall and coming off,” Burton said. “You had to trust each other that you know what you’re doing, and it turned out that they did.”

Thomas-Perry, 14, just completed her second season with the Stingrays after moving to Duncan from Saskatchewan, while Burton, who recently turned 13, just wrapped up her first year with the club after relocating to Mill Bay from Victoria. This was the first time for both girls at the BC Summer Games, although Thomas-Perry competed in the Saskatchewan Summer Games in 2016.

“The Saskatchewan Summer Games were pretty similar, but there was a lot more ‘team’ here,” she said. “There was a better atmosphere, like we were all as one.”

Paridaen van Veen left immediately after the BC Games for the Canadian junior championships in Winnipeg. Thomas-Perry also qualified to attend Canadian junior and senior championships, but made the decision not to go this year. Thomas-Perry did compete at the Western Canadian Age Group Championships earlier this year, a meet that Burton also qualified for, although she was too young at the time to attend.

In addition to the three swimmers who did compete at the Summer Games, the Stingrays also had two alternates for the Games, who would have raced if any athletes from any zone were unable to make it.

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