The Duncan Stingrays packed the pool at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre last Saturday for their annual Winter Break Invitational meet.
The Stingrays themselves had 31 swimmers in action, joined by about 100 more representing teams from Victoria, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, Comox and Burnaby.
The Duncan competitors ranged in age from eight to 18, the youngest being Colbie Hall and Rudolf Kruger, and the oldest being Jasmin Marston.
Kruger had some of the best races of the day, earning his first two Vancouver Island championship qualifying times. His 50m backstroke time of 48.25 seconds surpassed the regional 10-and-under boys standard of 52.36, and his 50m freestyle time of 42.00 beat the regional standard of 43.12.
Also getting his first Island qualifying time was Alex Rockson, whose time of 3:01.47 surpassed the regional standard for 13/14-year-old boys of 3:03.30.
Just days before the Winter Break Invitational, Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup returned from the 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ont., where she had the opportunity to shadow the Canadian coaches as part of a mentoring program.
While in Windsor, Sirup got to see the Canadian team, led by 16-year-old Olympics superstar Penny Oleksiak, finish sixth in the medal count with two golds, three silvers and three bronzes.
“Windsor was beyond fantastic,” Sirup said. “It was a competition that is one step beyond the level of the Olympics — just the Olympics has such greater fanfare, of course. Lots of fast swimming, lots of new — to me — knowledge and thought patterns.”
Instead of using a traditional pool, the meet was held in the WFCU Centre arena, modified for aquatic purposes with the tank sitting on the ice sheet space and the pool-level floor sitting even with the fifth row of seating.
“It’d be pretty cool to do this at The Stick,” Sirup said.
In addition to her duties with the Stingrays, Sirup will be leading the B.C. swim team at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto in July. Sirup also guided the B.C. team at NAIG 2008 in the Cowichan Valley.