Swimmers from Summerland’s Orca Swim Club brought back bronze medals in recent competition.
“I feel that the momentum of the Orca Swim Club has been building over the past three years,” said head coach Joanne Malar.
“This year in particular, our swimmers have set personal goals to reach the AA and AAA Provincial time standards, and the amazing thing is that we had more swimmers qualify this year than I have ever coached before in the club!”
The Orca Swim Club sent eight swimmers to the AA Championships in Chilliwack Feb. 28 to March 2.
They returned with three bronze medals, 13 top eight finishes and 37 personal best times. Orca swimmers racing were: Haley Berrisford, 13; Madison Hilgersom, 13; Brittany Parliament, 15; Annmarie Lang-Hodge, 15; Danny Nixon, 15; Keagan Ingram, 11; Morgan Hilgersom, 11 and Taylor Smith, 11.
“Our swimmers are earning their stripes,” Malar said. “I am so happy that they see that all their hard work pays off. Self-confidence is half the battle going into competition, and it’s so satisfying as a coach to see when swimmers feel a sense of belonging at the top and many of our swimmers are just realizing their potential.”
She added that the highlight of the meet was the girls 200 metre medley relay, where the Summerland participants won bronze.
“Two of our four relay members had to swim up in an older age category but it was fitting that all of their best strokes suited this relay,” she said.
“They came to me with the splits they needed to do to earn a medal, and not only did they get the bronze, but they beat their projected time by over two seconds. They swam out of their tree for this medal.”
The medley relay consists of four swimmers, each racing one of the four strokes. Madison Hilgersom led off with the backstroke, Annmarie Lang-Hodge swam the breaststroke leg, Brittany Parliament swam the butterfly leg and Haley Berrisford anchored the team with the freestyle. They earned a bronze medal by the narrowest margin of 0.01 seconds.
Berrisford topped up Orca with another two personal bronze medals in the 800m freestyle and the 400m individual medley (IM).
Parliament and Hilgersom both placed fourth in individual events, narrowly having an individual medal elude them, however, their swims were personal bests.
Other Orca finalists who had gutsy top eight individual finishes included Taylor Smith and Keagan Ingram in their first AA meet and veteran Lang-Hodge.
Competitive swimming has a 10-month season with two peaks- the AA and AAA Provincial Championships short course (in a 25 metre pool) in February and March and the AA and AAA Provincial Championships long course (in a 50 metre pool) in June and July.
With more than 100 competitive swimmers being part of Orca in Summerland, there are more meets this spring and summer.
The Kamloops Spring Madness meet was held March 8 and 9.
The Vernon Invitational is April 12 and 13 while the Kelowna Invitational is May 9 to 11.
The Long Course AA and AAA will be held in Victoria June 20 to 22 and July 3 to 6.
Orca will be having their Swim-a-thon fundraiser Saturday, April 5 where swimmers will complete up to 200 lengths (five kilometres) in two hours.
Registration to join Orca for the upcoming season will be on Thursday, June 12 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Summerland Aquatic Centre.