In September 2017 the senior group of the Selkirks and their coach Barry Healey set some lofty goals for the upcoming season.
They set out to try and swim their best at the major meets of the year, not during the regular season. The Swim Canada competition program and regular season had some major changes over the past two years, with standards for making the top meet becoming much harder. So the coach and the swimmers made plans to put in their best efforts at the Western Canadian Championships in April in Victoria and repeat those performances over the summer.
At the Western Canadian Championships, many of the Selkirks won medals and made the finals. Finalists are selected from the top eight or 16 swimmers in qualifying rounds, the same format as the Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
Preparing the swimmers to excel in the qualifying sessions takes immense training and planning. It takes years to get an athlete and their parents to understand the reason behind the process.
As such, preparing for this summer’s major events was a massive task and involved a week in Victoria followed by two weeks at home training before boarding a flight to Edmonton for the Senior National Championships and straight from there to Winnipeg for the Canadian Junior Championships, all while training each day to keep fit.
Doing well in their age groups at the championships in Winnipeg was the goal and the team would not start to reduce their training until after the Edmonton and Winnipeg meets.
The time standards for the Senior National Championships in Edmonton were so strict that in some events less than 25 swimmers in Canada achieved these times. The Selkirks were extremely proud to have three swimmers make the standards and two of them compete in the event.
Molly Fogarty and James LeBuke, both 16-year-old swimmers, qualified for this very high-level competition, which is used to select the Canadian teams for the Pan-Pacific Games, World Open Water and Junior Olympics Games.
LeBuke had an excellent meet, making the ‘B’ Final in the 50m freestyle with a personal best time and a meet-best time in the 100m freestyle, setting senior records. Fogarty was close to a personal best in the 1500m freestyle, placing 28th, and eighth in the 400m freestyle.
The Selkirks, true to the season’s goals, saved the best performances of the season for last. In Winnipeg at the Canadian Junior Championships Fogarty and LeBuke were joined by two more swimmers, 15-year-olds Ethan Skofteby and Hunter Stewardson.
LeBuke became the first male swimmer from the Club to win medals at this level of national meet, earning a bronze in the 100m freestyle, silver in the 50m freestyle and silver in the 200m medley. All these swims were personal best times, making LeBuke one of the top swimmers in his age group.
Some of the coaches with Swim BC and Swim Canada feel LeBuke may be among the most improved swimmers at his level. This is LeBuke’s first year in the Swim Canada program, having played minor hockey up until last year. Many universities in both Canada and the U.S. are talking to Healey about LeBuke’s options when he graduates.
In the younger age group, Ethan Skofteby made some amazing times, including a personal best in the 100m backstroke and relay. Skofteby made finals for the first time at the junior championships, becoming the fastest BC swimmer in the 200m freestyle for his age group. He produced an excellent showing in the final and placed 11th overall of 46 swimmers.
Skofteby also made finals in the 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle with personal best times and placed 14th in the open water 1500m.
Molly Fogarty managed some of the best distance swim times of the year, placing fifth in the open water swim, one of the hardest swims of the meet. She swam a brilliant 1500m, producing a five second improvement to end up 14th in Canada. Her other events were the 400m individual medley, 200m fly and multiple relays.
Hunter Stewardson is also in her first year of swimming in the Swim Canada program and showed amazing results. Her main events were breast-stroke and individual medley and she broke the club record in the 100m breast-stroke. Over the year she has also made a five-second improvement in her 100m freestyle. Her goal is to make the provincial team for the 2019 season.
The Selkirks’ men’s team placed 23rd overall in the men’s ranking and they were the third best B.C. team.
In the combined team scores they placed 39th out of the 111 teams that scored points. There were over 600 swimmers at the Nationals representing over 150 clubs.
For more info on Selkirks’ swimming contact coach Healey at John.firstname.lastname@example.org. The new season and tryouts start in early September.
Submitted by Barry Healey