When the games were last hosted back in 2010 right here in the Nickel City, the Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club (SLSC) quartet of Kelly Hotta, Jacob Toner, Julie Langlois and Justin Burton-McCarthy walked off with 16 medals, including no less than five gold medals courtesy of Hotta.
Though none of these swimmers are back for another round of the Games, expectations remain high for the regional crew that has gathered young athletes from North Bay, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and the Sudbury area.
An underager simply garnering experience two years ago, Kasey Thompson (SLSC) returns, this year, for her second visit to the Summer Games. The summer has been a busy one for Thompson and some of her teammates, with the crew returning from California roughly a week ago, having competed at the Far Western Championships.
Bypassing the Age Group Nationals in Calgary for a different experience in Morgan Hill (CA), SLSC head coach Dean Henze looked to provide his young athletes with a different look at the west coast competition. Mission accomplished.
"I'm used to looking at my heat assignments and knowing everybody," Thompson said. "This time, I didn't know anybody — and I've only swam in outside pools once before. The meet was a little different than in Canada."
Trying to cope with a much different environment, the 15-year-old, who excels in the butterfly races will chalk the U.S. excursion as a learning experience.
"I was a bit disappointed with my swims in California, so I'm hoping for a rebound in Toronto," she said.
While a pair of swimmers from Sault Ste. Marie accompanied the Sudbury crew in California, Alex Sarvas hooked up with the Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club (SSMAC) group in making the trip to Age Group Nationals.
After a solid summer of training, the 16-year-old student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School is brimming with confidence as he prepares to make his debut at the Ontario Summer Games.
"I'm very excited, because this is right around the calibre that I should excel," he said. "I'm looking for some pretty fast times because the Ontario Summer Games will be the first short course meet I've done in months."
A top-end contender in both the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke events, Sarvas said it was a somewhat unique feeling to be selected to the regional team that will compete at the University of Toronto pool.
"It's a feeling that you're part of a Tour Team," Sarvas said. "For the most part, it's usually just a matter of meeting a qualifying time."
The swim competition will start Friday morning, with the following swimmers representing the northeastern Ontario squad:
Girls Team:Jocelyn Chassie (14) - Kirkland Lake Aquatic Club
Kalen Critchley (16) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club
Brenna Eastick (16) - Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club
Linda Ferguson (17) - Kirkland Lake Aquatic Club
Renée Gagnon (17) - North Bay Titans
Morgan Kivinen (14) - Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club
Alex Langlois (15) - Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club
Erin Lee (14) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club
Natalie Lefebvre (13) - Valley East Waves
Morgan McCartney (16) - Timmins Marlins
Chenoa Naylor (15) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club
Kasey Thompson (15) - Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club
Boys Team:Keltan Baran (16) - North Bay Titans
Jacob Boisvert (15) - Timmins Marlins
Jordan Doucette (15) - Timmins Marlins
Francis Huot (15) - Timmins Marlins
Kristopher Langevin (14) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club
Elliot McPhail (17) - Timmins Marlins
Alex Sarvas (16) - Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club
Tyler Smith (15) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club
Matthew St Louis (14) - Nickel City Aquatics
Noah Swain (16) - North Bay Titans
Erik Wainman (15) - Nickel City Aquatics
Paul Widgett (15) - Sault Ste. Marie Aquatic Club