Swimming on a big stage is nothing new for Selkirk Swim Club teammates Molly Fogarty, Chantel Jeffrey and Ethan Skofteby, but swimming at the Canadian Age Group Long Course Championships was a step up.
Approximately 115 teams and 850 athletes from across the country descended upon the Talisman Centre in Calgary.
This was the first trip to the national swimming stage for both Fogarty and Skofteby, while it was Jeffrey’s second.
The trio performed very well led by Jeffrey’s five top-eight finishes in the pool, including her first gold medal in the 1500-metre freestyle.
Fogarty had three top-15 finishes while Skofteby had one.
The greatest performances by the athletes came on the final day of the competition in the Open Water events.
Coming off his impressive three-medal haul at the BC Summer Games, Skofteby swam his way to an eighth-place finish in the 13-and-under 2.5-kilometre event.
In the 14 and over 5.25-km race, Fogarty swam her way to a bronze medal in the 14-year-old group, finishing only 26 seconds behind the gold medalist.
“I prefer swimming in the open water races simply because it’s outside and it’s a lot nicer than racing inside,” said Fogarty.
In the 15-year-old group, Jeffrey won gold, out-pacing all swimmers in the 14- and-over female group.
“My favourite races are the long distance freestyle swims,” explains Jeffrey. “I like the challange of pacing myself in the long endurance races.”
At the end of the six-day event, the duo of Fogarty and Jeffrey amassed sufficient points to finish second overall in the female team category of the Open Water competition. Coach Barry Healey was very pleased with the efforts put forth by all three swimmers.
“Ethan placed eighth in the 2.5-km open water with a brilliant effort and the girls placed second in Canada in the open water. Pretty good for a small town,” said Healey.
The small but committed Selkirks team finished 67th out of the 115 teams represented at the meet.
Healey looks forward to having even more swimmers achieve Western and National qualifying times during next season.
The trio were quick to thank their coach,
“He is a great coach and an especially great distance coach,” said Fogarty. “He trains us a lot in the distance we are swimming and not working on pacing.”
Skofteby added, “Swimming the actual distance really helps with the endurance and mental aspect of competing in a long distance race.”
The trio will continue to train with the Selkirks and look to continue improving their personal best times.
All three agreed that their goal for the upcoming season is to set senior national times and qualify for the national trials.
Jeffery also recently competed at the Canadian National Senior Swim Trials.
Swimming against some of the top swimmers in the nation, the 15-year-old was not fazed as she competed in the 400-m, 800-m and 1,500-m races.
In all three of her races she finished in the top 25.
“It was a great learning experience, because the races were not divided into age categories,” said Jeffrey.
“It was a little nerve-racking, but I swam really well, and I want to improve for next year.”