The Columbia-Shuswap Selkirks proved themselves to be the little club that can at the age-group nationals in Toronto.
At the end of the five-day long competition the Selkirks placed 35th of over 110 clubs, an impressive feat considering the size of the club. The club placed first overall in the women’s standings.
According to Selkirks head coach Barry Healey says he thinks the club’s results put them in the top five clubs in Canada with fewer than six swimmers qualified for nationals.
Five Selkirks qualified for nationals: Chantel Jeffrey, James Lebuke, Ethan Skofteby, Molly Fogarty and Hunter Stewardson.
The most exciting results for the Selkirks came in the open-water portion of the meet on Monday July 31. Jeffrey, Skofteby and Fogarty all medalled in the five-kilometre race. Jeffrey brought home the gold, while Fogarty and Skofteby each picked up bronzes. In the open-water portion of the meet, the Selkirks finished second overall.
Healey said he thinks the opportunity for the swimmers to get more open-water experience at the open-water provincials hosted in Salmon Arm had a big impact on their results at nationals.
The club’s results in the pool were also exciting, with all five swimmers scoring points for the team or climbing the podium.
Early on in the national meet 14-year-old Skofteby shaved a substantial 15 seconds off his 1500 metre freestyle time and placed seventh. He went on to break club records in the 200 and 400-metre freestyle.
According to Healey Skofteby is the first Selkirk to ever swim a time under 4 minutes, 20 seconds in the 400 metre freestyle. His time of 4 minutes 18 seconds makes him third in the country among his age group.
Skofteby’s wasn’t the only record breaker at nationals. Lebuke broke the club record time in the 200-metre breaststroke. Lebuke also went on to finish eighth in the 50-metre freestyle.
To go along with her gold medal in the open-water event Jeffrey won the silver medal in the 800-metre freestyle and placed eighth in both the 400-metre Individual Medley and the 200-metre freestyle.
Stewardson placed third in the B-final of the 100-metre breaststroke, a result that is both a personal best and a club record.
“They have worked super hard this year and supported each other both in the pool and out of the pool. This is not only great for the club but great for the sport, showing that in small towns and small clubs, you can become the very best if you work hard. You don’t have to live in a big city to have dreams,” Healey said.
Healey added he hopes the example of the Selkirks who found success at nationals will inspire new swimmers to join the club.