Glacier Bears make a splash

Whitehorse swimmers finished up their season at home this weekend with the Yukon Invitational Championship Swim Meet at the Canada Games Centre.

Whitehorse swimmers finished up their season at home this weekend with the Yukon Invitational Championship Swim Meet at the Canada Games Centre.

“It’s the culmination of the year for the swimmers,” said Kathy Zrum, Swim Yukon’s sport co-ordinator and Glacier Bears assistant coach. “What these swimmers are training for is a personal best every time they get on the blocks.”

It was a busy weekend, with more than 100 swimmers competing, including 10 Alaskans from Haines and five from Fairbanks.

Non-Glacier Bears swimmers from Whitehorse took advantage of the meet as well. Four North American Indigenous Games and Eight Special Olympic hopefuls used the meet as a qualifier for their respective upcoming events.

Two masters swimmers also joined the largely school-age meet.

“It’s great role modeling for the kids to see that you can keep swimming after 30 and be competitive,” said Zrum.

Past swimming records continue to be challenged by the Bears, and this weekend saw Alexandra Gabor break a Canadian record in the girls 12 and under 1,500-metre freestyle. She beat the old record Friday by more than five seconds — a record that hadn’t been bested for 23 years. And she already holds the record for the same event in the 10 and under division.

“It’s great, this is the second Canadian record broken in this pool, both by a Yukoner,” said Zrum.

“It was my last shot, so I wanted to go for the record this weekend,” said Gabor, who moves into the 13-14 year old division next week. “That was my main goal, the 1500.”

Gabor has had a very strong season, breaking several Swim BC records, but she’s humble about her success. “I think I could have done better, I could have tried a bit harder,” she said.

Gabor and teammate Bronwyn Pasloski have both qualified for the Junior Nationals in July, and Gabor will head to the Pan-Pacific Championships after that.

Gabor has also been named to Team BC as a developmental athlete and will swim with the team in Baltimore in June.

The two-day meet was the first competition for some of the younger swimmers, and gave more competitive swimmers a chance to better their times in a competitive setting.

“It’s been very good, better than expected,” said Bears’ head coach Marek Poplawski. “It’s nice to see swimmers improving their times, from the beginners to the top,”

In all, eight Glacier Bears records were broken this weekend, and several swimmers qualified for upcoming meets in the summer long course (50-metre pool) season. “Swimming is all based on qualifying standards, it determines which events you can attend,” said Zrum.

Brice Harding set a personal best in the 200-metre individual medley and qualified for the Lower Mainland Regionals (LMR) in the 200 and the 400-metre freestyle.

Connor Oliver-Beebe met the LMR qualifier in the 400-metre free as well.

Spencer Sumanik qualified for the LMR in the 200-metre individual medley and the 400-metre free. Sumanik was also awarded the Ryan Downing Memorial Award for the most improved performance in the 200-metre individual medley, an honour he took last year as well.

Jason Zrum met the AA qualifying time in the 400-metre free, and took the top aggregate score for the weekend in the 13-14 years division.

Josh Kelly made the AA times in the 50-metre free and the 200-metre breaststroke, also breaking a Bears record in the latter.

Mark Verhalle made AA in the 50-metre free as well.

Kristen Berube made the AAA time in the 50-metre free, and also took the Ryan Downing Memorial Award for most improved 200-metre individual medley.

After the meet the Bears handed out the end of the year awards, and the swimmers of the year in each division were:

 Cub – Shea Hoffman, Erin McArthur

Black Bear – Craig Berube, Hana Val

Polar Bear – Joshua Kelly, Aurora Cherian-Kuni

Kodiak – Jason Zrum, Molly Purser

Silvertip – Tanner Cassidy, Bronwyn Pasloski

Three additional awards were presented this year. Rookie of the Year went to Thomas Chretien; Geoffrey Thompson took home the Leadership Award, while Alexandra Gabor was named Swimmer of the Year.