Glacier Bears rake in medals at AA Championships

"Surprise is the greatest gift that life can grant us," wrote Russian poet Boris Pasternak. If so, five Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmers had a great weekend.

“Surprise is the greatest gift that life can grant us,” wrote Russian poet Boris Pasternak. If so, five Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmers had a great weekend.

“They surprised themselves at the meet,” said Glacier Bears coach Jim Thompson. “For five kids, they had a lot of team spirit and a lot of support for each other. If someone thought they didn’t swim a good race, the rest of the team was there to support them. I think that went a long way in determining how they did.”

The five Glacier Bears, all of whom set personal best times at the meet, won a total of 12 medals at the BC AA Long Course Championships in Surrey, BC, over the weekend.

Taking in the Bears’ only gold medals at the meet was Nadia Petriw, taking five in the 15-years-old category, winning in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre freestyle and in the 200-metre individual medley (IM) and the 200-metre backstroke. She also won silver in the 50- and 800-metre freestyle.

“It was a real breakout meet for her,” said Thompson. “Unfortunately, when she ages up (advancing into the 16-and-over division) she won’t swim AAA, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’d say by next year she’ll be in AAA.”

Petriw swam an AAA time, but will be in another age group by next year and will need to re-qualify.

“One of her competitors said she swam great, but she hoped she never had to swim against her at another meet,” said Thompson.

Competing in the 16-and-over girls’ division, teammate Becky Leslie captured silver medals in the 400 and 800 free and bronze in the 200-metre breaststroke.

“I think she surprised herself with medals,” said Thompson.

Leslie qualified for the 100 breast final on Sunday, but was, unfortunately, unable to stay and compete, as she had a plane to catch.

“I’m quite positive she could have medalled there,” said Thompson.

In the same division as Leslie, teammate Kate McArthur reached the podium in the 100 breast, winning bronze. She also narrowly missed out more hardware, taking fourth in the 200 back and fifth in the 100 back.

“Kate was probably surprised she got a medal in the 100 breast,” said Thompson. “When we had the pre-race talk, I said, ‘You can get a medal,’ and she gave the look and comment of, ‘No I can’t.’

“That brought her into the realization that she can do better if she wants to.”

Swimming in just his second AA meet, winning three golds at the BC Winter AA Swimming Championships in February, Edouard Bourcier won silver in the 400 IM in the 15-year-old boys’ division. He also came fourth in the 200 IM and fifth in the 200 breast.

“His competition was a little stiffer this time, but he finalled in the majority of his races,” said Thompson. “(His silver) surprised everyone, including his parents.

“I’m proud of what he did. He showed good competitor spirit.”

Competing in his first BC AA competition, Kevin Salesse failed to medal in the 14-year-old boys’ category, but still took fifth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 400 free.

“That was the first meet he’s been to in BC, so he did quite well,” said Thompson.

Swimmers from the Whitehorse club will be back in action later next week as they compete at the BC AAA Long Course Championships in Kamloops, BC.

Contact Tom Patrick at