If you like competitive sport, it doesnt get much better than this. Even the rain couldnt damped spirits at the North Shore Winter Club "Marlins" outdoor pool, where the best simmers from the Lower Mainland went head to head in the regional championships last weekend. And two of Whistlers youngest swimmers were right there showing them they can compete at the very highest level of competition.
After training up to six times a week in Whistler and Squamish, and competing on most weekends, 10 year old Samantha Ellis and six year old Kerry-Anne Hamilton earned spots at the regionals, where they competed as members of the Squamish Pirates.
Ellis was entered in four individual events and two relays, and made the finals in all but one of them the 100 metre individual medley where she missed the finals by one position.
In the five finals she did make, she brought home two golds, one silver, one bronze and a fifth place ribbon, swimming personal best times in every event. Her golds came in the A group medley relay and the B group 50 metre backstroke. She won silver in the B group 50 metre freestyle, and bronze in the 200 metre freestyle relay. Her fifth was in the A group 50 metre breast stroke. In the breast stroke, she missed second place by lass than half a second with third, fourth and fifth place being separated by two one-hundredths of a second.
Hamilton competed in the six and under categories, although she has spent most of the season training and racing in the eight and under category.
She started by winning the 25 metre freestyle with a personal best time that was three seconds ahead of the rest of the field. She then earned a silver in the back stroke, missing first by half a second.
Although her personal best in the breast stroke final was almost seven seconds slower than the top qualifier, she surprised everyone with a personal best time that was 0.2 seconds back of the gold medal and nine seconds faster than her previous best.
Hamilton won another gold medal competing with seven and eight year olds in the 200 metre freestyle relay. She beat her own personal best by more than four seconds in this race, and together with the other Pirates stunned the larger Vancouver-based teams by taking the win.
Her final medal haul was two gold and four silver medals.
Ellis gold medal performance in the 200 metre medley relay helped to qualify the Squamish Pirates for a berth in the provincial championships in Trail from Aug. 16 to 18. Ellis will swim the final freestyle leg, while Claire Ourom swims the back stroke, Theresa Erickson swims the breast stroke and Al MacKellar swims fly. Ellis will also compete as the second alternate in the 50 metre breast stroke, and first alternate as part of the 200 metre freestyle relay. In total, the Pirates qualified four relay teams, and almost half of their swimmers in various age groups for the provincials.
The Whistler Swim Club would like to congratulate both girls for their success, and thank the Squamish Pirates coaches, board, and familys for letting the girls train and compete as part of their team. The weekend has shown the true depth of swimming talent that exists in the Sea to Sky corridor, and it is hoped that this is only a start of the join co-operation of both clubs to ensure all swimmers in the corridor have an avenue to achieve their own personal best.