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Glacier Bears collect five medals at AAs

Glacier Bears swimmers Dannica Nelson and Luke Bakica are B.C. AA champions.

Glacier Bears swimmers Dannica Nelson and Luke Bakica are B.C. AA champions.

The two Whitehorse swimmers won gold at the B.C. AA Championships over the weekend in Surrey.

The two gold are among five medals won by the Whitehorse club at the short-course meet. The Bears also won three silver, reached 14 finals and produced personal best times in 26 out of 28 swims.

“It definitely exceeded our expectations and I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” said Glacier Bears head coach Stephanie Dixon. “They conducted themselves very professionally, on and off the deck, and they did what they needed to do to prepare for some extremely tough races.

“Some of them swam three races a day - heats and finals - so they were really long days.”

Nelson, who was competing in the 14-year-old girls division, won gold in the 200-metre breaststroke with a time of 2:57.12, cutting 12.94 seconds off her previous best time.

She also won silver in the 100-metre breaststroke (1:24.21), and placed fifth in the 100-metre freestyle.

“They really look like elite athletes. They made huge jumps this year,” said Dixon. “I think this is a huge turning point for us and we’ll continue to build on this momentum.”

Bakica, who swam in the 12-year-old boys division, also shaved a lot off his times. He won gold in the 200-metre breaststroke (3:09.81), eliminating 15.45 seconds from his best time.

He captured silver in the 400-metre freestyle (5:17.93), cutting 15.77 seconds off his time.

“At his age you expect them to take off big chunks of time, but 15 seconds is really something incredible,” said Dixon.

Bakica also placed fourth in the 200-metre freestyle and the 100-metre breaststroke, and was sixth in the 100-metre freestyle.

Glacier Bears’ Matthew Blakesley was another medal winner. Blakesley swam to silver in the 200-metre individual medley (1:54.57) in the 12-year-old boys division. He also claimed fifth in the 100-metre breaststroke and eighth in the 200-metre breaststroke.

Whitehorse’s Taylor Harvey finished seventh in the 100-metre backstroke for 13-year-old girls. She also came 13th in the 100-metre butterfly and 14th in the 200-metre backstroke.

The youngest of the five Glacier Bears in Surrey was 10-year-old Thomas Bakica. Despite competing against older kids in the boys 11-and-under division, Thomas came 10th in the 200-metre freestyle, 11th in the 100-metre freestyle and 13th in the 100-metre breaststroke.

Along with their gold medals, Nelson and Luke qualified for the B.C. AAA Championships beginning at the end of the month in Victoria.

Glacier Bears teammates Rennes Lindsay, Cassis Lindsay, Adrian Robinson and Haley Braga have also qualified for the AAAs, but not all have committed to going.

“It was almost 100-per-cent best times,” said Dixon of the AAs. “Everyone took off huge chunks of time and surprised themselves a little bit with how fast they went.

“I knew they would swim well, but this surpassed my expectations. I’m just really proud of them.”

Contact Tom Patrick at