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This could be the season that the Polar Bear Swim Club gets a good look at who’s coming through the system.

Judging by the latest spate of results, it would appear the system is churning them out rather nicely.

Abby Shears, seen during the 2017 Canada Summer Games this past August, was part of the Polar Bear Swim Club squad that went to Whitehorse for the Ryan Downing Memorial Meet from Nov. 3 to 5.
Matt Duboff/Canada Summer Games photo

Twelve of the club’s swimmers made the trip to Whitehorse earlier this month for the Ryan Downing Memorial Meet with several swimmers managing several top-three finishes.

Jane Mooney, the club’s head coach, was in Whitehorse with the team and said it wasn’t a medal meet, meaning everyone got ribbons for their placings, but it was a good chance for the club’s younger swimmers to get into the pool and see some action.

“No points were given out for standings or anything like that,” she said. “It’s a meet catered toward the younger swimmers and it’s good for the younger swimmers to compete outside of their home events.”
Indeed, a majority of the dozen who made the trip are in the Cubs program, those between the ages of nine and 12, and Mooney said the focus for them was to start thinking about qualifying for bigger and better things.

“The 10 and under level is where swimmers start racing for provincial times in Alberta,” she said.

One of those young swimmers who has already made it to the provincial meet later this season is Mina Lockhart, who nailed down her marks in 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly events, two races she also won. She also won the 100-metre individual medley, 50-metre backstroke and 50-metre breaststroke to make it five wins in the 10 and Under girls category.

Toss in a silver in the 200-metre individual medley and a bronze in the 100-metre backstroke and it was the proverbial podium sweep for Lockhart, minus the podium and the medals.

Chris Ketchum was someone else who had a fine weekend in the boys 11-12 division. Ketchum won the 100-metre freestyle, 400-metre freestyle, 50-metre backstroke and 100-metre backstroke and finished second in the 50-metre freestyle, 50-metre breaststroke, 100-metre breaststroke and 50-metre butterfly.

“Chris has been making huge steps,” said Mooney. “He’s following in the footsteps of his older brother, Alex, and it’s continuing the pattern of the younger siblings managing to equal or even beat what their older siblings have done.”

Zach Young and Madeleine Kapraelian were two swimmers who made their debut in out-of-city competition and Mooney said they accorded themselves just fine, considering it was their first taste of big competition.

“They had a couple of disqualifications but that’s all down to development,” she said. “Taking the younger swimmers to a meet like this was good because it showed them what competition is about and the sooner we get them exposed to it, the better. It’s important to try and keep the younger swimmers focused on what’s going on because there are so many races in such a short period of time. That means there could be different recovery times depending on the race schedule.”

There was some veteran experience within the team as Abby Shears and Aisling Dunn, both of whom raced at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg this past August, joined in to provide some senior leadership.

The next major event for the club will be the J.P Fiset Invitational Meet in Edmonton next month and Mooney said there are 21 swimmers already qualified to go to that one.

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James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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