After passing up their chance a number of times, the Northern Novas finally brought the MASY Challenge (Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Yukon) to Whitehorse.
Now that the Canada Games Centre is up and running, the time was right to host.
“All the swimmers were exited to hold this event at their home club,” said Peggy Dorosz, Yukon’s chairperson of the MASY Challenge.
Ten clubs from the prairie provinces made the trip — 133 swimmers in all.
“This is a pretty good size meet — we’re just thrilled, things went off without a hitch, I think we kind of surprised ourselves,” said Dorosz.
Travel to Whitehorse was a concern for some teams.
“It’s very expensive, and we had to think long and hard about coming, especially from Winnipeg,” said Winnipeg Synchro coach Karen Land. “But it was the chance of a lifetime for the girls to come North. It’s been great.”
Most teams arrived earlier in the week and did the tourist thing, when not practicing their routines.
For the Novas, competing at home has some advantages, especially for the younger swimmers. The tier-one team, which came together just six weeks ago under coach Marilyn Young, got its first true meet experience.
“They probably wouldn’t have had the chance to compete this year, except that we hosted,” said Dorosz. “They wouldn’t have travelled outside.
“They enjoyed having team sweaters and competing as a team.”
The more seasoned tier-two squad faced rivals it rarely met for its third meet of the year.
“We don’t see each other at all during the season,” said tier-two coach Aura-Lea Harper. “We’ve been to two BC events, it’s completely different.”
“It’s hard for us to see what our competition actually is,” added Harper.
“These guys, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, they’re very good. We’ve always been competitive with them, but this year we’re really up there with them.”
Indeed, the Nova’s tier-two squad managed a respectable fifth place finish against seven club teams.
Yukon’s best finish of the weekend was Taylor Hanna and Simone Kitchen’s fourth place duet in the tier-one division.
The Novas competed only in tier one and two, but the competition included higher levels as well.
“We were very pleased to have the tier three, four and five here in our pool, we don’t normally get to see that,” said Dorosz.
It’s widely expected that many of the best swimmers from the tier five teams will be back in Whitehorse in February, representing their provinces for the Canada Games.
“It’s a different format at the Canada Games, instead of the tiers, you have one provincial or territorial team competing at the same level.”
The Yukon is hoping to send a duet to the games.
Chrissy Spinks and Ia Greer have already started working on their routine, and will continue training through the off-season.
“People don’t realize how much work it actually is, a lot of underwater work, breath holding,” said coach Harper.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work.”