The presence of Outside swim clubs seems to have lit a fire under the Whitehorse Glacier Bears at the 2015 Yukon Invitational Championship Swim Meet.
Glacier Bears swimmers broke three club records and 13 meet records at the Yukon championship held Friday and Saturday at the Canada Games Centre.
“It was great. It was super busy,” said Glacier Bears head coach Malwina Bukszowana. “I think it was really good to have the four Outside clubs. I’m sure it put some spark into the racing. The kids couldn’t expect who would do the best, who would qualify for the final.”
The Glacier Bears welcomed swimmers from four Outside clubs to this year’s invitational. The Yellowknife Polar Bears brought 33 swimmers - four of whom set meet records - Alaska’s Haines Dolphins 14, Fort Smith Hurricanes four and Inuvik’s Mackenzie Muskrats four.
Along with 84 Whitehorse swimmers, a total of 139 swimmers took to the water.
That’s the most to swim at the Yukon championships since the 2010 invitational when 142 competed.
The total of 20 records are the most to fall at a Yukon championship since the 2009 invitational when three club and 26 meet records were dunked.
“I think it was really good, partly because we had some very good competition from Yellowknife,” said Glacier Bear Thomas Bakica. “It wasn’t like a normal Yukon Invitational Swim Meet.”
“It was really, really fun having all the teams there and I think everyone got along really well,” said teammate Cassis Lindsay. “We didn’t know these kids very well, but on the last day we’re dancing with them. Some of them are really fast and it’s great to have the competition. I think the whole team loved it.”
Bakica swam to two club records and four meet records for boys 11-12.
He set club and meet records in the 400-metre freestyle with a time of 5:16.42 and in the 1,500-metre free at 21:03.92.
“It was my first time doing the 1,500 free,” said Bakica. “I was a little nervous at the beginning of the race, but Aidan Harvey and Alex Petriw were both in the race with me and tried to keep up with them and I passed them. It made me work a lot harder knowing my friends were in the race and they were all really supportive.”
Bakica also set meet records in the 100-metre butterfly at 1:25.76 and the 200-metre individual medley at 2:48.44. He already holds the club record in the 200 IM, having swam it in 2:43.79 at the B.C. AA Championships in February.
“The 200 IM is one of my favourite events,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately I didn’t quite do as well as I did as well as I did before down in B.C. ... But I still worked hard and got the meet record.”
Lindsay was the other club record breaker, setting the girls 13-14 record in the 100 IM with a time of 1:11.21. She posted enough top results to take the aggregate title for her age group.
“My coach and I have been working on a lot of endurance and technique lately, so I’m just really glad it’s paying off,” said Cassis. “I only raced the 100 IM because my hip’s been hurting a bit in breaststroke lately. So whenever I do a 50 breaststroke, which I would do in a 200 IM, which is way more common, it hurts sometimes. I didn’t want to risk that, so I did the 100.”
“I’ve swam it in time trials before, but its not held at AAAs or nationals.”
Sister Rennes also set a record in the 100 IM, an event that’s not always held at the Yukon championship.
Rennes swam the 100 IM in 1:14.15 to set a new meet record for girls 11/12. The previous record was set by Fairbanks’ Bryn Spores in 1996.
She also set meet records in the 100 fly (1:13.39), 200 fly (2:36.28), and the 400 IM (5:31.04). Surpassing a time set by former Glacier Bear Alexandra Gabor - a Canadian record holder and Yukon’s only gold medalist at the Canada Summer Games - is one that stands out for Rennes.
“I was really happy about breaking Alexandra Gabor’s meet record for the 100 fly,” said Rennes.
“There were so many people who came, it was just really fun,” she added of the meet. “It was really good energy there and everyone was really in the competition.”
Bakica’s older brother Luke also made amendments to the record books. Swimming in the boys 13-14 division, Luke set club records in the 200 fly (3:04.37), 200 breast (2:50.20), and 100 breast (1:18.06).
“The 200 breast and 100 breast are by far my best events,” said Luke. “I’m looking to get the club record for the 200 breaststroke the next chance I get.”
Five members of the Yellowknife Polar Bears placed in the aggregate standings, including all three spots in the boys 13 and over division. The Polar Bear club sent a few boys as old as 17 to compete, years older than the senior Glacier Bears swimmers competing.
“It was a lot better to have the Outside swimmers. You got to meet role models with the older 17-year-old swimmers that we don’t have here,” said Luke. “They were all very friendly and got to know them. We may even see them at Western (Canada Summer Games).”
“They showed swimming can be done when you’re 15 and over,” added Bukszowana. “At the club we don’t have anyone who is 15 and over.”
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Boys 10 and under
1st Christopher Blakesley (WGB)
2nd Theo Anderson (WGB)
3rd Thomas Gishler (WGB)
Girls 10 and under
1st Amelia Barrault (WGB)
2nd Amelia Ford (WGB)
3rd Kassua Dryer (WGB)
Boys 12 and under
1st Gabriel Leclerc (YPB)
2nd Thomas Bakica (WGB)
3rd Aiden Harvey (WGB)
Girls 12 and under
1st Rennes Lindsay (WGB)
2nd Ella Pollack-Sheppard (WGB)
3rd Meaghan Pennington (WGB)
Boys 13 and over
1st Bronson Dolynny (YPB)
2nd Breten Walker (YPB)
3rd Roman Asmudson (YPB)
Girls 13 and over
1st Cassis Lindsay (WGB)
2nd Danica Nelson (WGB)
3rd Aodhan Mooney (YPB)