Young Stingrays shine in Black and Blue
Swimming: Annual home meet gives stage to developing talents
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 06:00 am
Experience isn’t everything in swimming.
As a trio of Foothills Stingrays showed at the annual Black and Blue Swim Meet last weekend at the Riley Minue Pool in Okotoks, dedication, perseverance and natural ability can take you great distances in the pool.
Twelve year-old Abigail Griffiths turned in the best swim meet of her burgeoning career with the Stingrays by qualifying for the Age Group Provincial Championships with A-swims in the 1, 500m freestyle and the 200m and 100m backstroke.
Not bad for an athlete in just her second year in the pool.
“This will be my first A’s (provincials). It’s very exciting,” said Griffiths, who attributed her excellent meet to preparation. “I’ve been working on what I do before I jump in the water and considering that I need to get in my head and relax a little more. And I’ve been working my butt off in practice and that’s helped a lot.”
The gifted swimmer will look for more good fortune at the Age Group Championships, March 1 to 3 in Calgary.
“I hope to take off more time and maybe make it to a final,” Griffiths said. “And the experience will be a lot of fun as well.”
Griffiths earned a first-place finish at the Okotoks meet in the 100m backstroke, shedding four seconds off her personal best time in the process, and swam to personal best times in five of six other events.
Two first time competitors at the Black and Blue meet proved youthful exuberance and talent can sometimes supersede inexperience.
Stingray Steffen Botha has proven himself to be a natural in the pool in his first year with the swim club.
The nine-year-old earned a first place finish in the 200m breaststroke at the Black and Blue meet, finishing just four seconds shy of a provincial qualifying time, and swam to a personal best of 2:50.
“I just kept on ascending,” said Botha of the 200m swim. “The first lap I went regular speed and kept on getting faster and faster.”
Nine year-old Nyah Hicke, a third-year member of the Stingrays and graduate of the pre-competitive program, showed a great deal of promise and heart by swimming through a bout of the flu on the weekend.
“My 200m freestyle I tried to swim as hard as I could and I was really sick,” said Hicke. “Even though I felt really tired I kept up the pace.”
By swimming to a B-time, both Okotoks swimmers earned a berth at the Age Group Trials, Feb. 22 to 24 in Calgary.
Stingrays assistant head development coach Cara Clifford said both Hicke and Botha are shining examples of early development within the swim club.
“Since September (Steffen’s) really gotten a feel for the stroke and has a lot of power to put behind it,” Clifford said. “And Nyah is a great example of how our pre-developmental program flows into the competitive stream. She has a beautiful feel for the water and is starting to hit her B times.”
The Black and Blue meet also served as a competitive launching pad of sorts for the Stingrays’ Blue Rays who mastered the grueling two-day swim meet in a field with more advanced and older swimmers, Clifford added.
Meanwhile, the Performance swimmers at the highest level of competition for the Stingrays are en route to one of the most important meets of the year.
Stingrays head coach Todd Melton and eight Foothills swimmers – Sarah McMahon, Carly Ede, Ryan Jackson, Jotham D’Ailly, Emilia Hesterman, Layne Guidinger and twin sisters Kalyna and Christyna Dashko – are in Saskatoon for the Western Nationals from Feb. 14 to 18.
For more information on the Stingrays go to www.foothillsstingrays.com