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SWIMMING SENSATIONS – The Whitehorse Glacier Bears before their meet in Victoria on Dec. 2. The 13 swimmers achieved a remarkable 75 personal bests at the event.

Glacier Bears achieve great results at recent meets

The Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim club has had some kind of success in two meets recently.

By Morris Prokop on December 20, 2021

The Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim club has had some kind of success in two meets recently.

The Christmas Cracker meet took place Dec 2-5 in Victoria B.C. at the Commonwealth Centre.

“We were thrilled to be able to go,” stated Escobar. “Also, B.C. was going through some stuff and closing and things. They also went through a state of emergency for different reasons. But it ended up being confirmed and we took 13 athletes. Normally we take about 30, but most of the swimmers who go to that meet were not feeling ready to travel yet.”

Anyone from outside of B.C was required to be vaccinated, which eliminated the swimmers under 12 years of age. All 13 swimmers were vaccinated, and ranged in age from 12 to 18. 400 swimmers attended the meet.

“It was such a good meet for us,” exclaimed Escobar. “It felt so good for us to go out and race again after almost two years.”

According to Escobar, the meet is “normally huge, about 700-800 swimmers ... Santa comes, and the Grinch comes, it’s a Christmas (event).”

The Glacier Bears swam a total of 90 races, with 75 personal bests and 29 finals achieved. Six new club records were also set.

“We were 13 swimmers racing 29 finals – that was incredibly positive for us, and having 75 personal bests, that’s very high out there in the average of any club racing at any point of the year. So we were rockin’ it,” exclaimed Escobar.

“And we also qualified three brand new swimmers to Divisionals (Corbin Jackson, Reese Jackson and Hugh Stopps).

Divisionals take place in February in Victoria.

“The fact that we had three new swimmers qualify for Divisionals, that was very successful.”

“The head coach of (University of) Victoria, which is one of the best programs in the country, is very interested in having two of our boys joining their team, so they were noticing performances.

“And in this meet in Toronto, the head coach of Simon Fraser University, which is a university that competes in Division 2 in the States, sent an offer to one of our swimmers as well. So that was pretty good,” recalled Escobar.

“I think our voice and our program is getting noticed now;” said Escobar. “We are doing a good job. I was not necessarily expecting that much of a success because we haven’t formally raced in so long. Now that we were exposed (to racing), we showed some success.”

Two of the swimmers, Mia Barrault and Thomas Gishler, went to the Ontario Junior National meet in Toronto Dec 9-12. In Victoria, they weren’t doing their main events, but made it into several finals anyway. “Kind of a high note for me, that they were out there for the first time, at a bigger meet, and doing their off-events and racing into every single final,” related Escobar.

“The other one, the highlight was the 200 breaststroke on the Sunday, and our swimmer, Thomas Bakica, was amazing. He swam fast enough to qualify for the Toronto meet, but couldn’t go, because the deadline for the Toronto meet was Nov. 30 ... but he was awesome!”

Alex Petriw, Liam Gishler, Emily Vangel, Khushi Brar, Adelle Sternbergh, Will Snugden, and Kale Masse were the other swimmers at the B.C. meet.

The Toronto meet was for swimmers 18 and under, and is the fastest short course meet in Canada for that age group. According to Escobar, it’s kind of like a mini-nationals and is normally attended by international teams. This year, only Canadians attended.

It was the first time Barrault and Gishler participated in the meet.

“The time standards are significantly fast. They are at a national level. Qualifying for this meet, first of all, is super-hard. You have to be fast to go,” stated Escobar.

Gishler raced in five events and broke four club records and was top-5 in the 800 metre freestyle, and just missed the Canadian Trials by less than a second in that event.

“He killed it,” stated Escobar. “So that kid is now on-track to be a national Canadian Trials qualifier. Without a doubt, he’s gonna make it.”

Barrault was in two finals, finishing top-10 in the 100 metre breaststroke, and won the B final in the 200 metre breaststroke. She also got a personal best in the 200 metre individual medley and in the 100 metre butterfly. Barrault has already qualified for the Canadian Trials in Victoria April 5-11.

“It was a bit of a shocker for them to be at that level. That was completely out of their comfort zone, but they managed to get it together and stand on the blocks and give their 100 percent.

“It was a huge learning experience for us. There were swimmers from all over Canada ... I was very happy to be there with them and teach them new strategies for mind control, nerve control, ‘focus on what you need to do, let’s go’” said Escobar.

“It was good ... we flew back very happy with what we did.”

Meanwhile, the Ryan Downing meet has been postponed until Jan. 22-23. It was originally scheduled for Nov 11-12, but was postponed due to the state of emergency under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) declared Nov 8.

“It was very unfortunate because I think the state of emergency got announced that very same week, so we had everything going but then we had to cancel and it was very disappointing,” related Escobar.

The event was postponed mainly due to capacity issues and most of the kids not being vaccinated since they are under 12 years of age.

The club will be running a Christmas camp Dec. 20-24 for the Polar Bears, Kodiaks and Silvertips. Following a Christmas break, they resume activities Jan. 4.

Comments (1)

Up 1 Down 0

Hugh Stopps on Feb 18, 2022 at 12:52 pm

I was there.

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