Boy swimmers make waves in competition

After several years of watching the Whitehorse Glacier Bears girls’ swim team compete successfully at a national level, it’s time for the…

After several years of watching the Whitehorse Glacier Bears girls’ swim team compete successfully at a national level, it’s time for the boys to soak up some accolades.

For years, the yardstick has been Mackenzie Downing, who has set records and sucked up medals as a young Bear.

And there are current stars Alexandra Gabor and Bronwyn Pasloski.

Now, a healthy rivalry has pushed the boys to work harder and compete at the same levels many of the girls have been swimming at, said longtime swimmer Spencer Edelman.

“It sucks getting beat by a 13- or 14-year-old girl in the pool,” said 19-year-old Edelman, who’s been with the club since age eight. “They’re quick.”

Entering his third year on University of Lethbridge swim team, Edelman looked at the younger Whitehorse guys he swims with during the summer.

They’re registering faster times than he did at their age, he said.

Guys are competing at higher levels, such as AAA and club nationals, a step up from the levels boys would normally swim at several years ago, said Edelman.

Better coaching and time spent in the water honing techniques is what’s driving the improvement, he added.

“It was more for fun when I was younger,” said Edelman. “You’d swim for two weeks and then go to different towns and swim in pools that weren’t regulation size. Now you’re swimming 18 hours a week, two hours a session.”

“I expect they’ll be doing really well; my generation is gone,” he said.

The whole team has improved since he started coaching three years ago, said head coach Marek Poplawski.

“The quality of the team is growing,” he said, adding that the boys still had some catching up to do.

“Whoever is working harder will compete at a higher level, if it’s 10 boys and one girl or six girls and two boys.

“Definitely, when I started, the girls were competing at a higher level than the boys. Now, after training together and being motivated they’ve started to be achievers as well.”

The next major competition for five of the swimmers is the age-group national championships next week in Montreal.

Two boys, Tanner Cassidy and Brendan Zrum, and three girls, Pasloski, Gabor and Kirsten Berube, are competing against the top swimmers from across Canada in their age groups.

Cassidy, 16, swam for seven years and has seen an improvement with the guys who swim laps beside him almost every day, thanks to coaching and more practice, he said.

“This club wasn’t as competitive as some other ones, but the girls were doing really great,” said Cassidy, adding the rivalry has pushed everyone to improve.

“I know a lot of the younger kids are taking swimming a lot more seriously.”

Competing at higher levels — he recently swam at a AAA competition and “did OK,” — means pushing the limits of your abilities, said Cassidy.

It means standing at the start line with BC swimmers, some of the best in the country.

“It’s intimidating because you are up against some fast people, but we’re getting into a routine and improving,” he said.

At the BC provincial long-course championships in Kamloops last weekend, Yukon swimmers broke 16 club records.

Alexandra Gabor won gold in the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-metre free swim competition while earning silver in the 50-metre free.

Bronwyn Pasloski earned a gold in the 100- and 200-metre breast stroke.