February a busy month for Stingrays swim team

The last two weeks of February were extraordinarily busy for the Duncan Stingrays, who sent swimmers to three meets, including provincial and national championships, within a short stretch.

Two Stingrays – Natalia Garriock and Laura Kissack – attended the Western Canadian Championships, the secondhighest level of competition in Canada, in New Westminster on Feb. 13-16.

Garriock earned one personal best and three seasonal bests while building toward her major competition of the season, the Canadian trials for the Pan Pacific Championships and Commonwealth Games on April 2-5. Garriock placed eighth overall and won the B final in the 50m butterfly, and ranked 13th overall in the 100m fly.

Kissack, racing for the first time at the Western Canadian level, swam to one personal best despite missing the previous week of training due to illness.

"We are excited for the performances of our two most senior swimmers being able to race at the second highest level of swimming in Canada," head coach Leanne Sirup said. "Their personal bests achieved at this level requires greater mental strength as each race can be as close as having eight swimmers ranging in .10 seconds from start to finish."

At the same time, the Stingrays had 13 swimmers at the Campbell River Killer Whales Eliminator Invitational.

Ty Dahlstrom, Jeremy Kissack, Dylan Kruger, Heather Mackay, Jaylene Olebar and Ava Smith had personal bests in all of their races, while Sofie Bloss, Cailine Keirstead, Mya Smith and Chong Teng recorded PBs in all but one of their events.

Six of the Stingrays tried out new races, led by Bloss, who tested herself in three new events. Olebar, Kruger and Jeremy Kissack recorded provincial AA qualifying times in the 50m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 100m backstroke, respectively. For Olebar and Kruger, the times were their first ever provincial qualifying marks.

Finally, from Feb. 28 to March 2, the Stingrays had eight swimmers at the provincial AA championships. Olivia Campbell, Olin Dahlstron, Haakon Koyote, Megan Lewis and Gavin Morrison all recorded 100 per cent personal bests, while Desirae Ridenour had PBs in all but one race.

Also representing the club were Jessica Castle and Rosie Lee.

Campbell earned her second AAA qualifying time of the season in the 400m free, and Dahlstrom collected AAA qualifiers in the 100m, 200m and 400m free, giving both swimmers berths in next year’s AAA meet. Ridenour picked up her first AAA time in the 100m breaststroke.

Dahlstrom also finished the meet with top-four placings in all his events, including gold medals in the 100m and 200m free. Koyote had top-eight results in all his events, including bronze medals in the 50m and 200m free. Campbell claimed a silver in the 400m free, and Ridenour earned a bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

"The level of this competition was raised due to the minimum of two qualifying times, and our swimmers benefited from the change in criteria," Sirup said. "We are very pleased for our swimmers and for their performances as this proved to be a very fast competition."