Home water proved to be a major advantage for swimmers from the Columbia Shuswap Selkirks swim club as they took first place in two events and had other impressive finishes at the 2017 SwimBC Open Water Swimming Championships.
The open water championships, held at Canoe Beach, drew swimmers from all over the province but when the races were over Ethan Skofteby stood atop the podium for the men’s 13 to 14-year-old two-kilometre race and Chantel Jeffrey had dominated the Women’s 15 and over five-kilometre race.
Skofteby finished with a time of 26:17.94; his competition was spread out behind him with the silver medal going to Jordan Cowan, whose time was 27:04.36 and Jakob Brager who finished in 28:10.51
“I got ahead on the start so then I just kind of kept my pace. On the last leg, I went harder to get ahead,” Skofteby said.
Skofteby had built up a 50-metre lead at the turn-around point of the two-kilometre race.
“I did not know I was that far ahead, I knew I was at least a little bit ahead but I didn’t know it was 50 metres.”
Skofteby will be advancing to Toronto for nationals where he will swim the five-kilometre event.
Like Skofteby, Jeffrey pulled out in an early lead in the five-kilometre, race with teammate Molly Fogarty right behind her.
Later in the race, Fogarty slid to fourth place and Jeffrey briefly lost her lead but regained it in short order.
On the home stretch, Jeffrey had stretched her lead to approximately 30 metres and Fogarty was in the hunt for second place.
Jeffrey touched with a time of 1:05:32.97, leaving Fogarty to battle it out for second place with Sophia Brunoro of Simon Fraser Aquatics.
Fogarty chased Brunoro right to the finishing blocks, finishing just six seconds behind her with a time of 1:06:51.28
“They’ve both got great experience at this event. Chantel has won national titles at this event before and Molly has been third at national titles. At provincials, it’s a strong field, probably the top eight swimmers in the country are here today,” said Selkirks head coach Barry Healey as the women’s five-kilometre event was underway.
A highlight moment came at the end of the men’s five-kilometre race when Andrew Woinoski took first place and his brother Alex won second, but Ethan Phillips of Island Swimming Club spoiled a Woinoski brother podium sweep by holding off Tim Woinoski in a sprint down the final stretch.
The women’s two-kilometre race was very close with Isabella Brunoro snatching gold from Ashley McMillan by a mere 0.27 seconds.
Healey said the response to how the event has been handled from other coaches and Swim BC officials had been very positive
“The response has been better than I expected; we’re getting comments like this is probably better than Canadian nationals, better than age group nationals probably as good as running a world cup event,” Healey said.
Healey said there have been inquiries about hosting open-water training camps and more races in the future.