Glacier Bears at their best at Ryan Downing meet

Swim season has only just begun and the Whitehorse Glacier Bears already have logged hundreds of individual accomplishments.

Swim season has only just begun and the Whitehorse Glacier Bears already have logged hundreds of individual accomplishments.

The Whitehorse swim club hosted the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet on Friday and Saturday at the Canada Games Centre. The goal of the season-opening meet is for swimmers to set personal best times and hundreds – too many to count – were set by the roughly 100 Whitehorse swimmers in attendance.

“There is still plenty of work, but I’m happy with how the club is going and how the meet went,” said Glacier Bears head coach Malwina Bukszowana. “I liked it, it was fun, the kids enjoyed it. The parents and the referees ran it smooth, so I think it was great.”

In addition to the abundant “PBs,” four club records, nine meet records, 35 AA times and eight AAA times were set at the meet.

Keeping the club’s record keepers the busiest was Whitehorse’s Thomas Bakica. He was even breaking records in events he had never swum before.

“I got a lot of support from my teammates, which made it very exciting and fun,” said Bakica. “I was really trying to push people in the races. In the 800 free, when I was racing against Brooklyn Massie we were really close together through the whole race. I was also racing my sister (Jessica) and she was also very supportive of me.”

Bakica set three club records and seven meet records in the boys 10-and-under division.

His club records, which are also meet records, were for the 200-metre individual medley (3:04.50), the 400-metre individual medley (6:48.36) and the 800-metre freestyle (11:59.61).

“I really liked the 400 IM – it was new to me,” said the 10-year-old. “It was really exciting to do that. I also think the 800 free was exciting. It was a new thing and I was hoping for the best.

“I had never done it before. I was a little scared.”

Bakica’s meet records came in the 100 free (1:18.20), 50 breast (46.71), 200 breast (3:37.86) and the 100 individual medley (1:33.68).

“I don’t think it was just Thomas who swam well,” said Bukszowana. “I think there were swimmers from all the coaches who swam well. The coaches are happy.

“The kids are looking better than in September.”

Glacier Bears’ Alexander Petriw penciled his name into the club record books for the first time on Saturday.

Petriw swam the 200 free in 2:52.82 to set the boys 10-and-under record.

Though a club record, the time was not a meet record, as a swimmer from Alaska’s Haines Dolphins holds the current meet record.

Whitehorse teammate Rennes Lindsay set two meet records in the girls 11-12 division, swimming the 100 individual medley in 1:19.79 and the 400 individual medley 5:53.62.

Lindsay also set a AAA time in the 200 breast. Other AAA time setters include Cassis Lindsay (50 free, 100 back, 200 back), Rennes Lindsay, Luke Bakica, (100 breast), Aidan Harvey (200 back) and Thomas Bakica, (800 free, 200 IM).

A total of 12 Glacier Bears swimmers set AA times at the meet, which was Bukszowana’s first since taking over as head coach at the start of September.

“We haven’t begun to train seriously yet, but I enjoy it a lot,” said Bukszowana. “The kids are very motivated. They never complain, they always say ‘OK’ and are happy to do whatever you ask them to do. The board is running the club really well.”

Eighteen athletes from Alaska’s Haines Dolphins Swim Team competed at the meet, making the Ryan Downing an international event for a second year in a row.

“All the swimmers from Haines, it was fun to have them here and swim with us,” said Thomas Bakica. “It made it a fun meet.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com