Selkirks qualify nationally and internationally

Coach says qualifying five swimmers for nationals is a big step forward for the club.

It has been a record-breaking season so far for swimmers from the Columbia Shuswap Selkirks Swim Club.

Chantal Jeffrey, Molly Fogarty, Hunter Stewardson, Ethan Skofteby and James Lebuke have all qualified for junior nationals. In addition, 16-year-old para-swimmer Maggie Manning will be travelling to Indianapolis on Wednesday to compete in the International Para Swimming World Series as well as being named first alternate for B.C.’s Canada Games team.

Junior nationals will be held in Toronto from July 23-26.

According to head coach Barry Healey, qualifying five swimmers for nationals is a great leap forward for the Selkirks, who sent three swimmers to nationals last year and no more than one in previous years.

Qualifying more than three swimmers opens up new opportunities for the Selkirks, including the mixed relay events.

The mixed relay teams are made up of two male and two female swimmers. Events for the mixed relay include 4×100-metre freestyle and the 4×100-metre medley.

“It builds team spirit, it’s exiting and it’s less stressful for some kids to swim relays than the individual event,” Healey said “It’ll be a fast relay too – these guys are hot.”

The nationally qualified Selkirks are all impressively high on the Canadian and B.C. standings for their events, but 15-year-old Jeffrey’s #1 national standing in the 1500-metre freestyle in her age group is the most impressive result. Jeffrey’s 1,500-time was fast enough to qualify her for senior nationals, where she will be competing against university level swimmers.

Jeffrey will have practice competing at an elite level before senior nationals as she will be departing on Friday for a Team Canada open-water training camp in Florida, followed by an open-water competition in the Cayman Islands.

“I think she’ll be ready. It’s going to be a wake-up, no doubt about it,” Healey said. “The goal is for her to learn as much as she possibly can.”

Fifteen-year-old Fogarty has also been making her mark on the long-distance events; she is ranked seventh in the country and third in B.C. in the 1500-metre.

Skofteby has qualified for several events at nationals, most notably the 100-metre backstroke in which he is ranked 14th nationally and second in B.C. in the 14-year-old age group.

Lebuke and Stewardson are both relatively new to swimming year-round, having been summer club swimmers in Revelstoke before joining the Selkirks, but both are improving rapidly.

Stewardson is qualified for only the 100 metre breaststroke at nationals, but Healey says she will get more time in the pool as a member of the relay teams.

Lebuke has broken Selkirk records in the 50, 100 and 200-metre breaststroke events as well as the 200-metre individual medley.

“He’s a great kid to coach – he’s attentive and all the other kids love him,” Healey said.

Selkirk swimmers will have more chances at achieving nationally-qualifying times at the TRU Wolfpack Invitational this weekend in Kamloops and AAA provincials in early July, also in Kamloops.