Former Canadian Olympian Alec Page is flanked by Stingrays swimmers Bridget Burton, Ty Dahlstrom and Mary Paridaen van Veen during the Swim BC Regional Age Group Camp at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Olympian gives Stingrays a boost at Island camp

Regional event is part of a busy season for swim team

Vancouver Island’s fastest young swimmers gathered at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre earlier this month for a camp that was headlined by a former Olympian who was in their same position not long ago.

The Duncan Stingrays hosted the Swim BC Regional Age Group Camp for the fastest 13-and-under boys and 12-and-under girls from Vancouver Island, a total of 12 girls and 18 boys. The group included Stingrays Mary Paridaen van Veen, Bridget Burton and Ty Dahlstrom, with coaches coming from clubs in Comox, Victoria and Nanaimo, as well as Duncan head coach Leanne Sirup and assistants Sophie Paridaen van Veen, Megan Lewis and Kyle Danielewicz.

The guest of honour was Alec Page, an Olympian who got his start attending camps not unlike this one, and who was there to show the young swimmers how far they can go.

“He’s a real-world example of what’s possible,” Sirup said. “Rather than being a name on a piece of paper, it’s a person they can connect to.”

Originally from Cortes Island, Page first dreamed of going to the Olympics when he was seven years old, although he didn’t know at the time what sport he wanted to compete in. He went on to place 23rd in the 400m individual medley at the 2012 Games in London, as well as 14th in the 4x200m freestyle relay. His resume also includes medals from the 2011 World Junior Championships, World University Games and 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, as well as an appearance at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. He retired in November 2015, but remains connected to the sport.

“Mostly I come to camps like this and try to help out where I can,” he said. “I enjoy these camps. I remember what it was like to be at that age at events similar to this and hear the cheesy inspirational story from someone in this position. I try to take the cheese out of it, but sometimes it can’t be helped.”

Page’s message to the swimmers last weekend was mostly about hard work, goal-setting, visualizing and relaxing.

“You’ve got go be on your side,” he said. “Confidence in yourself will take you a long way.”

Page’s goal of making it to the Olympics took him through the ups and downs of years of training.

“Regardless of what your goal is, hold on to it,” he said. “You never know.”

Born in Victoria, Page grew up on Cortes Island and trained with the swim team in Campbell River.

“It’s always given me great perspective, going to meets all over the world,” he commented. “My humble beginnings made me appreciate it more.”

The camp was just part of a busy season for the Stingrays, who will also be hosting the Vancouver Island Swimming Championships in January and the BC Summer Games in July.

A week before the regional camp, the Stingrays sent 39 swimmers between the ages of eight and 17 to the Riptides Fall Invitational in Nanaimo, where several of them had multiple top-eight finishes, including Dahlstrom, Burton, Mary Paridaen van Veen, Oliver Castle, Ryca Stiwich, McKinley Thomas-Perry and Rudolf Kruger.

“The calibre of racing was comparable to the Island Championships we’ll host in January,” Sirup said.



kevin.rothbauer@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan Lanes bowlers take on the best in B.C.

The best results for the Cowichan Valley bowlers came in the intermediate girls division

Sonia Furstenau column: Now the time to make changes for the better

This coronavirus has given us opportunity to identify what matters most in our day-to-day lives.

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Drivesmart column: Staying on your side of the road

No exemptions that grant permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

Mary Lowther column: Starting seeds to beat the slugs, wood bugs

My favourite sorts of seedling starters are the plastic cells that fit inside trays

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read