Change is in the air, following the completion of the recent Swim Ontario Divisional Team Championships, with all three local clubs sure to feel some effect.
With the event moving from the traditional late April date to a mid-December competition for the 2012-2013 season, the Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club (SLSC) fought valiantly to hold their Division I status, while both the Nickel City Aquatics (NCA) and Valley East Waves took to the water at Laurentian, part of the 27-team Division III swim meet.
At the Jeno Tihanyi Olympic Gold Pool, the NCA crew came through with a solid eighth place performance, recording a total of 253.50 points and finishing just ahead of both the Ottawa Y Olympians and Kingston Blue Marlins.
Encountering a little more turnover in the ranks, the Waves posted a total of 70 points (18th place), edging out the Elliot Lake Aquatic Club (69) and Hearst Phoenix Swim Team (65).
"We have a new, young group at this meet," Valley East coach Sharon Leger said. "It's a new experience and we have a few 13-year-olds making their first final ever, with many posting personal best times. I'm really proud of how everyone is taking the meet."
The Waves' crew welcomed back 20-year-old Ian Blechta for the weekend, competing for his long-time club and taking first place in the 200-metre breaststroke in a time of 2:35.54. Blechta was back in town after completing his third year as a member of the McMaster Marauders swim team.
Pacing the point total for the Valley East contingent were Natalie Lefebvre (two fourth place and two sixth place finishes), Isaac Callaghan (a fourth and two sixths), Ryllie Tryon (two sixth place finishes), Zander Fortier (fifth, eighth and ninth), Alexandre Landry (seventh), Shane Deck (eighth) and Blechta.
"Just having everybody get behind the people that are in the finals, that was important," Leger said. "We have the maximum of 25 swimmers here and what we're looking for is having kids get in and establish their times."
Meanwhile, the Nickel City Aquatics, under coach Richard Buwaj, earned a number of podium finishes, with brothers Erik and Michael Wainman leading the way. The tandem walked away with nine medals (four gold, three silver and two bronze), with Michael placing first in both the 50 and 100-m freestyle events, as well as the 100 and 200-m breast stroke (age 12).
Gavin Staalstra (silver, bronze) and Matthew St. Louis (two silvers) also enjoyed a multiple-medal weekend, with Taylor Fratin (silver) and Tiia Ovaska (bronze) also cracking the top three.
Competing at the Division I Championships in Etobicoke, coach Dean Henze and the SLSC swimmers came up some 40 points shy of retaining their status within the grouping, placing 13th with 103 points. After two years back in Division I, the locals will now have to try and work their way back up, returned to the Division II grouping.
However, early signs point to a possible "home pool advantage" come December as the Laurentian site is rumoured to be the host of the Division II Team Championships in mid-December 2012.
The locals fell victim to a gap between a very talented older group of swimmers, many of whom are familiar names within the local sports circuit, and a very promising up-and-coming under-10 contingent that are still likely a year or two away from making some real noise on a provincial scale.
Kelly Hotta, Kasey Thompson and Scott Van Doormaal medalled for the SLSC squad, while Nina Kucheran, sisters Alex and Julie Langlois, Emily Jones and Caelan Thompson all navigated their way through to event finals.
Posted by Laurel Myers