Elsa Parr, top, takes a breath as she races against Brooklyn Massie in the mixed 50 metre final at the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet in Whitehorse on Nov. 3. Parr won with a time of 30.53 seconds, while Massie finished in a close second with a time of 31.10 seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukoners make a splash to mark the beginning of the swimming season

Nearly 120 swimmers took part in the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet

Yukon swimmers kicked off their season earlier this month at the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet.

The event, held on Nov. 2 and 3, saw nearly 120 northern swimmers from the Yukon and Haines, Alaska take to the pool.

Swimmers from the Whitehorse Glacier Bears, Special Olympics Yukon, Yukon’s Northern Novas Synchro Club and the Haines Dolphins Swim Team all had a chance to show off their skills.

The meet is named after 13-year-old Ryan Mariner Downing, a former Glacier Bear who died in December 1996.

It’s meant to be mostly for fun, said Malwina Bukszowana, the Bears’ head coach. Participants receive ribbons for beating their personal bests.

“It’s just to be a pleasure meet, for fun,” she said.

The meet is one of the rare events where swimmers as young as seven years old take to the pool. It’s one of only two events that the youngest swimmers are likely to take part in this season, Bukszowana said.

While record times may not have been at the top of everyone’s minds, that didn’t stop a handful of records from being broken.

The Bears’ Aidan Harvey had a very successful meet, breaking four meet records.

Competing in the boys aged 15 to 17 category, Harvey broke the record in 50m backstroke (29.88), 100m backstroke (1:03.95), 200m freestyle (2:06.83), and 400m IM (5:09.17)

Harvey also has a string of new club records to his name in the 50m backstroke (29.88), 200m IM (2:23.37), and 400m IM (5:09.17)

Yukon’s Alex Petriw also broke the meet record in 800m freestyle for boys aged 15 to 17 with a time of 9:21.27.

Bukszowana called the 16-year-old Harvey a hardworking and focused swimmer.

“What I see and hear from the coach that is coaching him is that he is still training super hard and he pays attention and he puts in 100 per cent effort when he’s in practice,” she said.

Bukszowana said Harvey is working towards the goal of appearing at the national championships.

“He definitely is going for it, so we’ll see.”

The swimmers weren’t the only ones practicing their skills poolside.

Nancy Telford, a visiting referee from Penticton, B.C., not only officiated the event but also taught officiating courses and mentored two parents working toward their referee certification.

Bukszowana said the Yukon has a few people with the qualifications to officiate events (mostly parents of former swimmers) but no one local was available for this particular meet.

This training will help increase the size of the pool of parents the club can call on for help.

According to organizers more than 150 parent volunteer positions were filled over the two days.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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