One of two November meets attended by the Duncan Stingrays swim team had special meaning for assistant coach Brent Forsyth.
Forsyth took 15 Stingrays swimmers to the Bennett Cup meet at Saanich Commonwealth Place on Nov. 10-12. Formerly the Island Pacific Cup, the meet was renamed for former national swimming team coach Randy Bennett, who had worked hard to make it an early-season test for the top swimmers in the Pacific Northwest. Forsyth was a friend and colleague of Bennett, and they coached together at Island Swimming until Bennett’s death from cancer in 2015.
The meet is a big one, attracting three U.S. teams this year, including Tualatin Hills, the top club in Oregon, as well as select teams from Ontario and Saskatchewan, in addition to Canadian Dolphins and UVic swimmers using the meet to qualify for USport championships
“Just getting to a final was notable for our young Stingrays,” club spokesperson Bruce Clarke said.
Six athletes graduated from the Stingrays program last spring, and Forsyth worked hard to prepare the new senior swimmers for the Bennett Cup.
“A whole new group of 12- to 15-year-olds have moved up to head our training lanes at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre,” he said.
Because they were focused more on technique than results, the swimmers didn’t taper their training prior to the meet, but still had excellent results. Nine swimmers reached finals: Oliver Castle, Desirae Ridenour, Ty Dahlstrom, Robyn Zinkan, Dylan Kruger, Bridget Burton, McKinley Thomas-Perry, Sophie Paridaen van Veen, and Mary Paridaen van Veen.
Another contingent of 21 Stingrays attended the Campbell River Killer Whales Winter Classic Nov. 26, where the focus was again on more than just results.
“Teamwork, sportsmanship and learning were the awards,” head coach Leanne Sirup said.
The 10 and under junior boys relay team had an excellent meet, finishing second only to the Stingrays advanced team in the 200m freestyle relay, and winning the 200m medley relay. The Duncan 11- and 12-year-old boys also won their two relays.
Most of the Stingrays who swam in Campbell River had little previous experience in competitions, and learned lots from the Winter Classic.
“The results were measured in personal organization, self-routine and focus. The swimming was the bonus and most of our swimmers returned with a big smile.” Clarke said.
Stingrays swimmers will be in contention at two meets this weekend as they host the DST Winter Break Invitational at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre on Saturday and send a contingent to the Richmond FastSwim.