The Trail Regional Aquatic Excellence program will be sending a record number of swimmers to represent the Zone 1 Kootenay contingent as it gears up for the B.C. Summer Games beginning Thursday and going until Sunday in Nanaimo.
The Zone 1 swim team led by TRAX head coach Bill Park and assistant coach Eve Fournier will bring 13 swimmers between the ages of 12-14 to the Games, including seven from the TRAX program, 11 more than the previous Summer Games.
“We are the number one Zone, and we will race well,” said coach Park. “I know these guys will be able to stand up and compete against anyone in this province and I know that we are going to be successful.”
The TRAX swimmers include Aby Elwood, Ian Markus, Kayla Fraser, and Kira Konkin from Greater Trail, and Kelsey Andrusak and Samuel Matthew from Nelson.
Elwood, Markus, and Matthew recently returned from the Swim BC AAA Long Course Provincial championship swim meet held in Victoria. All three achieved personal best times and top-twenty finishes in their respective age categories.
Matthew and Elwood swam a personal best preliminary swim in the 400 Individual Medley which qualified them for finals where Elwood finished in 12th place and Matthew came 14th.
Matthew, with much improved technique, also achieved a Canadian Age Group National time standard in the 14-year-old boys 200-m breast event.
Markus swam his first sub five-minute 400-metre freestyle taking off over 12 seconds from his previous best and in the process qualifying for the afternoon final where he placed 16th.
Rounding out the team is Cranbrook’s Chole Mayes, Mathew Meuleman, Ryan Penney, Sydney Kenke, and Jayden White, as well as Kimberley swimmer Madeline Hill, and Invermere’s Isabella Hul.
The team spent Sunday training at the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre and coach Park was impressed with the progress of the Zone 1 team and East Kootenay swimmers.
“The Cranbrook swimmers are great, they’re fun to work with, they’re exciting, they learn new skills, and in two-and-a-half hours they learned a lot. This is the kind of stuff that this region needs, we need to help each other out. The purpose of getting the team together is really important. The purpose of getting the whole region together is really important, so they can stay home and get the training they need.”
The team followed its workout with lunch and team building, as they prepare to join about 3,200 athletes in Nanaimo.
“I’m looking forward to the ride there,” said TRAX swimmer Markus. “I’ve never been on an airplane before.”
Markus captured six gold medals at AA meet in Kamloops last month and goes into the Games with modest expectations as a 12 year old competing against older swimmers.
Fraser meanwhile says she can’t wait to stay in the school with all the athletes, and while she is a little nervous about competing, the team has been training hard and believes they are ready.
Konkin meanwhile is coming into her own as the most recent wildcard addition to the Zone 1 team.
“I’ve never been to Nanaimo, so I’d like to see what their pool is like,” says Konkin. “I have never been to an event like this, so I’m excited. I want to do good, but there is a lot of tough competition so I don’t know.”
The team will travel to Cranbrook Wednesday and fly to Nanaimo very early Thursday morning.