Swimmers from the Zone 1 Kootenay team gathered at the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre pool for a workout before heading to the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo on Thursday. From left front: Sydney Kenke

Record haul for Kootenay crew

The Trail Regional Aquatic Excellence swim club lit it up at the B.C. Summer Games pool in Nanaimo on the weekend

The Trail Regional Aquatic Excellence (TRAX) swim club  lit it up at the B.C. Summer Games pool in Nanaimo on the weekend leading the Zone 1 Kootenay team to its best performance ever at the event.

Zone 1 athletes improved on their previous best performance from the last Games in Surrey taking home 23 medals, one gold, nine silver, and 13 bronze; seven more than the 16 medals won in 2012.

Leading the way were TRAX swimmers Aby Elwood of Trail, Montrose’s Ian Markus, and Sam Matthew of Nelson. The trio combined for eight medals, one-third of the total Zone 1 medal-haul, with Elwood claiming gold in the 200-metre butterfly, while Markus won silver in the 1,500-metre free, and Matthews captured silver in the 800-free and 200 IM, and bronze in the 400 IM, 200 backstroke, 100 and 200-m. Breaststroke.

Elwood’s was the only gold medal won by the Kootenay Zone, and the 13 year old didn’t quite know what to expect heading into her first Summer Games.

“I was really proud of myself when I got it, considering I really didn’t think about it going in,” said Elwood. “There is so many good athletes out there, that there was just so many things that could happen.”

Elwood was seeded third going into the 200-m fly on Friday and after having a mediocre preliminary swim where she clocked a 2:35, she needed to turn it on in the final.

It was a three-horse race from start to finish, and despite losing time on the turns, the 13-year-old Elwood would reclaim the lost water in the ensuing 25 metres.

“I realized we were close, and I thought it was going to be within a touch, so really anything can happen. We were so close and I just kept saying ‘stay with her’, ‘stay with her’, and I was hoping I would be able to stay with her the whole race.”

Elwood made up time and took a slim lead in the final metres of the race, out-touching Campbell River’s Cianna Dunn by four-tenths of a second, and bronze medalist Giselle Steiner of Vancouver by .56 of a second, finishing in a sizzling 2:29:83 and achieving U16 Western Canadian time standard.

Markus too came close to netting gold. After 60 lengths of the Games pool, the 12-year-old swimmer would lose to Zachary Dumas by just four seconds in the 1,500-m. free. However, his time of 18:00:47 would be enough to net him the U13 Canadian Age Group National time standard.

“When you work hard all season at the little things like touching your toes and are prepared for practices, your hard work pays off and Ian is an example of that,” said coach Eve Fournier.

The Kootenay Zone swim team was led by TRAX coaches Bill Park and Fournier, who, based on performances, have established the TRAX program as one of the tops in B.C.

“I really enjoyed this year, especially with the new coaches,” said Elwood. “They have a lot of new things to teach us which really helps a lot with everything, just with all the new techniques and stretching too, you can feel a bit of a difference when you’re in the water training, that helps a lot.”

The coaches also secured a record number of spots on the Zone 1 team for local swimmers, including five from TRAX and eight from the East Kootenay, making for a fun as well as successful meet.

“The Cranbrook kids from the meet, I really enjoyed meeting them, and then we got to be really close friends at the end of it,” said Elwood.

TRAX swimmers Kira Konkin and Kayla Fraser also competed, helping the girls relay to a fourth and sixth place finish in the 50-m Medley and Free relays, while swimming best times and meeting AA time standards.

In boys Triathlon, Trail’s Jackson Konkin went home with three bronze medals in the long Triathlon, Aquathon, and Super Sprint, while the Kootenay Zone golf team coached by Champion Lake pro Kevin Nesbitt and Salmo golfer Ethan Paton won silver.

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