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Glacier Bears, Polar Bears set records at season opener

No matter how many records are set each year at the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet, there’s always room for improvement.

No matter how many records are set each year at the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet, there’s always room for improvement.

After 15 meet records were set last year and 15 the year before, 20 more fell at the season-opening meet Friday and Saturday at the Canada Games Centre.

“The club generally swam very well,” said Glacier Bears head coach Malwina Bukszowana. “I was very happy to see all the kids improving. The strokes are improving, everything is getting better.”

The hosting Whitehorse Glacier Bears had some help rewriting the record book this year. The meet was one of the largest ever held in Whitehorse with about 90 swimmers from the Glacier Bears, 30 from Yellowknife Polar Bears, 18 from Alaska’s Haines Dolphins and a dozen from N.W.T.’s Inuvik Muskrats.

Though Yellowknife had about a third as many swimmers as Whitehorse, they produced just over half of the meet records set this year. Yellowknife’s Gabriel Leclerc set eight meet records in the boys 13/14 division.

Glacier Bears’ Luke Bakica, in boys 15-18, was a standout for the home team. Bakica set two club records, swimming the 100-metre breaststroke in 1:13.31 and the 200 breast in 2:39.04, the latter doubling as a Glacier Bears club record.

“Last year he almost didn’t improve, this year he already swims much faster, which is great to see,” said Bukszowana.

Brother Thomas Bakica set a boys 13/14 meet record in the 200-metre butterfly (2:55.93).

In the same age group teammate Aidan Harvey set two meet records, in the 100-metre backstroke (1:09.87) and the 200 back (2:33.40).

“He trained really, really hard last year, but the results didn’t really show it and was frustrated,” said Bukszowana. “He’s still motivated and trains really hard this year, and it’s paid off. He had a very good meet.”

Whitehorse’s Lindsay sisters each knocked down a club record. Rennes Lindsay swim the 200-metre individual medley in 2:31.36 for a girls 13/14 record and Cassis Lindsay the 200 back in 2:29.81 for a girls 15-18 record.

Teammate Adrian Robinson set boys 15-18 meet records in the 200-metre freestyle (2:11.50) and 50 breast (31.57).

Yellowknife’s Leo Konge set boys 11/12 meet records in the 50 fly (34.29) and 100 fly (1:22.35).

“I made everybody in my group swim 400s. Lots of them weren’t happy about it because they don’t swim longer events, but I did it on purpose because at the beginning of the year I want to see where their endurance is, if they can last for the entire race,” said Bukszowana. “If they are able to swim 400s well, paced well, then that means they will most likely swim really well 50s and 100s in the future.”

Only one record was set in 10-and-under — by Yellowknife’s Madison Bell in the girls 50 breast (50.27) — but Bukszowana was impressed by many of her younger swimmers just the same. She had a lot of names to mention.

“We have seven- and eight-year-old swimmers who are swimming with really good technique and are very competitive,” said Bukszowana. “We had nine- and 10-year-old swimmers who were in the finals and you can see how competitive they are.

“Thomas Gishler had a really good meet … his 400 IM looked really good … Ruby (Lieu-Ashthorn), Amelia Ford and Amelia Barrault swam well with best times. Brynna Lalonde swam very well too, beat her best times by a lot.

“Misa Svoboda is a boy who is really competitive and likes to swim and was really at the top of the 10-year-olds. His friend Ben Qually — the same.

“Simon Connell has amazing breaststroke … Jonah McConnell is very competitive. Lydia Brown showed really good breaststroke too … Yinger Zhang swims everything really well.”

Contact Tom Patrick at