A Trail swimmer has already punched her ticket into the B.C. Summer Games, becoming the first swimmer in the Kootenays to make the team.
It’s still a couple months away, but Trail Regional Aquatic Excellence swimmer (TRAX) Aby Elwood has already qualified for the Kootenay’s Zone 1 swim team for the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo July 17-20.
“I’m really excited,” said Elwood. “It’s going to be a new experience.”
The 13-year-old racer was announced before other swimmers because she racked up the most FINA points of any of her competitors in the Kootenays at a variety of swim meets since Jan.1.
As a result, Swim BC also named TRAX coach, Bill Park, as head coach of the Kootenay Zone team.
“I’m excited,” said Park. “I’ve been numerous times before back home in Ontario, but I find the quality and talent in these mountains is great . . . I really like the talent base we have, I know it will be a challenge because our team is going to be half the size of other teams but I know these kids are going to be very competitive and will do a good job.”
Elwood’s best finishes and, ultimately what qualified her for the Games, was her two gold medal performances in the 400 and 800 metre freestyle at the Kamloops Spring Madness meet as well as a pair of silver medals in the 100 and 200 m butterfly.
“Aby has come miles for millions,” said Park. “I know she was very gifted, her skill level was high, but very young. So basically what I did with Aby – as with all my swimmers – is we started from scratch and built up. I needed their skill level higher and I needed them to believe in themselves.”
Hard work, intensive training, and a positive attitude has seen vast improvement in all TRAX swimmers, and personal best times in subsequent races is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
“I know the talent is in this region. They’ve done what they need to do in the pool well before they even go out and race, so I try to change the climate in the program where they know they’ve already done it, they can believe in themselves, they don’t feel like they’re left out because they have to swim somebody from Vancouver and Victoria, they know they can stand up equally and compete just as well, and they have.”
Elwood is happy with her own progress, and attributes much of her success to the program.
“They focus a lot more on technique and that helps with the little things that count to get where you want to go,” she said. “It’s tiring but it’s also fun. You have to have determination to do it.”
Elwood is looking forward to joining the almost 2,000 athletes that will participate in the Games. When asked what she looked forward to most, Elwood replied:
“Being with my friends, and like getting to swim in a new place, and just a different environment. I want to see everything and see what the Summer Games really is, but also focus on the swimming part.”
The rest of the Kootenay Zone team will be announced June 10.
TRAX swimmers are off to Kamloops this weekend to race in the 22nd annual June Classic long course meet.