The Canada Summer Games was an experience for the Yukon swim team and a valuable one
Every Yukon swimmer, many of whom are eligible to compete again in 2017, logged personal best times. But most important is the experience of being at such a huge meet with 324 athletes and seeing some of Canada’s best in action, said head coach Stephanie Dixon.
“In the Yukon we don’t have a lot of those senior-level athletes for these guys to look up to, they have to come here to see this. It ignites a fire in them and that’s some motivation they can bring home with them. That’s the biggest thing they’ll gain from this meet.”
Yukon’s is a very young team compared to those sent from provinces. The youngest is 13 and the oldest is 16 at the 19-and-under competition.
None of the Yukoners made finals, but two set personal best times in every race they competed in.
Dannica Nelson, 14, and Ben Janzen, 15, rewrote their personal records every time they hit the water.
“This meet has been pretty good so far,” said Nelson. “I’ve been meaning to improve for a while now. I’ve been working on my technique a lot.
“A lot of it’s adrenaline, but it’s also I trained a lot during the summer, like mornings, nights, just a lot of working on that technique.”
A good cheering section from teammates, coaches and spectators didn’t hurt either.
“They are so supportive when you’re going up,” said Nelson. “When I’m swimming breaststroke and I stick my head out to breathe, I can hear them screaming and it gets you really happy and excited.”
Nelson swam to 27th in the 200-metre breaststroke at 3:04.55 and 28th in the 100-metre breaststroke at 1:28.04.
Janzen – Yukon’s only male swimmer at the Games – took 37th in the 100- and 200-metre backstroke events at 1:12.84 and 2:40.34.
“It’s been amazing. This is a great experience being here,” said Janzen. “I’ve never had anything else like this before. This is my first time being here and it’s been great.”
Other top results by Yukon swimmers include Isabel Parkkari, 16, placing 20th in the 800-metre freestyle; Haley Braga, 16, taking 31st in the 200-metre backstroke; Emily Crist, 14, finishing 35th in the 200-metre backstroke; and Taylor Harvey, 13, swimming to 38th in the 200-metre backstroke.
The Yukon team also finished 11th in four relay events, each time beating the Northwest Territories.
The Sherbrooke Games have much larger fields than in previous Canada Games with more than 40 swimmers in some events. Up to 2009, teams could enter two swimmers per event, but now they can enter four.
Every Yukon swimmer is a member of the Whitehorse Glacier Bears Swim Club.
“The entire club is in a development stage right now and so this was definitely for experience and to give them a taste of what these Games are like,” said Dixon. “So in four years they can come here and be competitive.
“In four years from now, I’m really interested in where Yukon will be because right now we’re just growing and developing.”
Four of the Yukon’s six medals ever won at the Canada Summer Games have come in swimming. Whitehorse’s Alexandra Gabor won four, including the territory’s first two gold, at the 2009 Games in P.E.I.
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