The Nelson Neptunes dove into the outdoor pool in Colville, Washington earlier this month at the regional provincials and swam away with great individual results.
The Neptunes finished fifth in the seven-team meet, but it was the individual performances that impressed the coaching staff.
“It was a typical Colville swim meet where the athletes had to battle against the 35-plus degree weather and the sun in their eyes as they were swimming,” said Neptunes coach Rebecca Afford. “Despite the heat, it seemed every swim they got a personal best.”
Regionals is run slightly different than normal season meets. Swimmers get medals for every race they place in the top three. If they place in the top three, they qualify for provincial championships which are being held in Nanaimo this coming weekend.
Medal winners for the Neptunes included: Afford (Division 7 girls) silver in 200 metre individual medley (IM), silver in 50m freestyle , silver in 50m butterfly, silver in 100m breaststroke; Joanna Blishen: (Division 4 girls) silver in 50m butterfly, silver in 100m breaststroke; Emma Borhi (Division 5 girls) bronze in 200m IM, silver in 100m backstroke, bronze in 100m breaststroke; Olivia Cowan (Division 3 girls) silver in 100m IM; Sage Cowan (Division 4 girls) gold in 200m IM, silver in 50m freestyle, gold in 100m backstroke, gold in 100m freestyle; Madeline Holitzki (Division 1 girls) silver in 100m IM, silver in 50m butterfly, silver in 50m backstroke, gold in 50m breaststroke; Matthew Holitzki (Division 2 boys) bronze in 50m backstroke, silver in 50m breaststroke; Samuel Matthew (Division 4 boys) silver in 200m IM, silver in 50m butterfly, silver in 100m backstroke, silver in 100m breaststroke; Jaylen Rushton (Division 1 girls) gold in 50m butterfly, silver in 50m breaststroke, silver in 100m freestyle.
“I could tell in the afternoons when it was blistering out that they were exhausted for finals, but despite this most were able to do their best and apply all of the technique and race quality swimming that we have been working on for the past three months,” said Afford.
“It was a really rewarding experience for me to see how the work that we have all put in resulted in some outstanding races and such great improvements in their swimming.”
The coach added that aside from the performance in the pool, the time spent as a team was a standout moment of the weekend.
“This meet was not only a great weekend to end the season for most of the swimmers because of the times that they were swimming, but also they had a really great time racing and spending time together as a cohesive group,” said Afford.
At the end of the meet Afford was awarded the Jelli Orrell Memorial Spirit of the Kootenays Award. All of the Kootenay coaches nominate a Kootenay swimmer who became a coach to receive this award.
The winner of this award is the individual who demonstrates excellent leadership qualities and positive approaches to coaching.
“I was elated to win this award,” she said.
“I am one of the youngest coaches in the region and I have been working so hard to make this season a success for the swimmers. Getting this award definitely solidified my confidence and knowledge of this sport.”