Three new Whitehorse Glacier Bears club records, along with 15 meet records, were set at the annual Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet Friday and Saturday.
Fourteen-year-old Alex Petriw set six meet records, five in freestyle distances, including a new club record in the 200 metre freestyle with a time of 2:10.66.
The first swim meet of the season, featuring 139 young swimmers from six different groups, put the focus on personal performances and not on competing against the other racers.
Ribbons awarded at the meet are not based on place finish, but on beating personal best times.
Swimmers raced against the clock to try and improve their own event times during the day and a half meet.
There were hundreds of ribbons awarded for best times, Bukszowana said, based on previous recorded swim times for the athletes. Most of the younger athletes won ribbons in the majority of their races – if not all – as they continue to improve, she said.
Recognizing individual feats is how the meet has always been structured. The meet is in honour of former Glacier Bear swimmer Ryan Downing who died at the age of 13 from an undetected heart condition.
His main race was the 200 metre individual medley, Bukszowana explained, and they always race heats and finals for that specific event in recognition of Downing.
The Glacier Bears had 95 participants in the meet, the rest from visiting clubs.
The Haines Dolphins Swim Team brought 10 swimmers from Alaska led by 10-year-old Pacific Ricke who won all eight events she competed in and set two meet records in the 200 and 400 individual medleys.
Two teams joined in on the weekend action from Northwest Territories. The Mackenzie Muskrats Swim Club from Inuvik had 10 representatives and the Yellowknife Polar Bears sent 12 swimmers.
Bukszowana said overall she felt the meet went very well for the club.
“Our team was swimming really well,” she said. “The younger groups improved definitely, the butterfly is starting to look better.”
For the Glacier Bears older swimmers, Bukszowana said this meet wasn’t meant for beating best times but to see improvements in technique – and instead they saw both.
“They were not supposed to beat best times and they did, which was a really nice surprise,” she said noting she worked the team very hard in practices beforehand expecting them to be very tired at the meet. “They’re starting better than last year and at a higher level already.”
Thomas Gishler set two meet records in the 400 metre distance and a new 11-12 boys club record in the 400 metre freestyle.
In the final race of the Saturday morning session, Thomas Bakica set a new club record in the 400 metre individual medley. Racing all in one heat, he was up against teammate and decorated swimmer Cassis Lindsay.
Bukszowana said it was great to see them race together and be able to push each other throughout the longer swim.
They stayed together the entire race with 14-year-old Bakica pulling away for the victory and new record.
“He’s an (individual medley) swimmer, it’s one of his main events,” Bukszowana said of Bakica’s race. “He broke his best time, which is rare early in the season, but there is room for improvement and he knows it.”
The Northern Novas Synchronized Swim Team participated in the meet for the first time with nine members competing in the 100 metre backstroke, freestyle and individual medleys.
Following the meet, there is no time for rest, Bukszowana said, with the older swimmers already back in the pool this morning.
The club will be preparing for their time trials in three weeks, which will include the breaststroke for the younger swimmers, which they have not yet raced competitively.
Most of the team will then be heading down to Victoria, B.C. the first week of December for the large Christmas Cracker Swim Meet with about 900 swimmers.