Rudolf Kruger, Finn Dahlstrom, Evan Hales and Malcolm Blackburn celebrate their victory in the 10-and-under boys 200m medley relay at the Vancouver Island Long Course Championships earlier this month. (Submitted)

Rudolf Kruger, Finn Dahlstrom, Evan Hales and Malcolm Blackburn celebrate their victory in the 10-and-under boys 200m medley relay at the Vancouver Island Long Course Championships earlier this month. (Submitted)

Young Stingrays make waves at Island Long Course championships

Bridget Burton and 10-and-under boys set the tone for Duncan swimmers

Duncan Stingrays swimmers could be found on and off Vancouver Island on the weekend of June 1-3 as the top younger swimmers took part in the Island Long Course Championships in Saanich while veteran Oliver Castle competed alongside some of the best in the world at the Mel Zajac Jr. International Invitational at the University of British Columbia.

“It was good to have Oliver exploring his challenges at the Zajac and for our young swimmers to step up and set some remarkable results standards,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup said.

Twelve-year-old Bridget Burton was among the Stingrays’ top performers at the Island championships, while the Stingrays also dominated the 10-and-under boys division.

Burton won gold in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke, and 50m butterfly, silver in the 200m individual medley and 100m backstroke, and bronze in the 200m free and 200m backstroke.

“Bridget was strong despite a busy program with as many as three championship finals each of the three evenings at Saanich,” Sirup commented.

The Stingrays’ 10-and-under boys team raced to gold in the 200m medley relay on the first evening of the meet. Finn Dahlstrom, Rudolf Kruger and Evan Hales all went on to multiple medal and top-eight finishes over the weekend, while Malcolm Blackburn made the trip solely to compete in the relay.

Dahlstrom would go on to take gold in the 50m and 200m fly, and silver in the 100m fly and 50m backstroke; Kruger claimed gold in the 50m backstroke silver in the 50m, 100m and 400m free and 100m backstroke, and bronze in the 200m free; and Hales added gold in the 400m free and fourth-place results in the 50m, 100m and 200m free.

McKinley Thomas-Perry (14) was the Stingrays’ second-highest individual scorer with second-place finishes in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.

Other medallists included Malia Prystupa (15), with gold in the 50m backstroke; Mary Paridaen van Veen (13), with silver in the 200m fly and bronze in the 100m fly; Olin Dahlstrom (15), with silver in the 50m backstroke; Sophie Paridaen van Veen (16), with bronze in the 50m and 100m free; Jasmine Kremer (15), with bronze in the 100m and 200m fly; and Maggie Preston (10), with bronze in the 50m backstroke.

“Our young swimmers are a strong group and point to a bright future for the club,” Sirup said.

Castle was part of a field that included household names like Penny Oleksiak and Ryan Lochte at the prestigious Mel Zajac Jr. Invitational.

Assistant coach Brent Forsyth accompanied Castle to UBC, where his results put him in the upper third of the elite field, and he narrowly missed advancing to the second round in the 100m breaststroke.

“To know he belonged and to compete with the very best was an important part of Oliver’s athletic development,” Forsyth said.