Young Stingrays get Black and Blue

Swimming: Home meet showcases developing talents for Foothills club

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 06:00 am

Foothills Stingray Megan Deering swims the breaststroke at the Black and Blue Meet on Sunday at the Riley Minue Pool.
Foothills Stingray Megan Deering swims the breaststroke at the Black and Blue Meet on Sunday at the Riley Minue Pool.
Remy Greer/OWW

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Nothing like familiar surrounding to bring the best out of promising young swimmers.

Foothills Stingray Mitchel Ochitwa completed a breakthrough swim over a year in the making in the 1,500m freestyle to highlight the Stingrays’ annual Black and Blue Meet, Feb. 8-9 at the Riley Minue Pool in Okotoks.

“I’ve been working on it for the past a year and a half- focusing on those little things to make my stroke better,” Ochitwa said. “I paced myself better, I prepared for my race and made sure I counted right and did a lot of mental preparation before.”

It paid off.

The 13-year-old took off a staggering 4:30 from his previous best time in the gruelling 1,500m race.

“I was a bit nervous at first and then once I got in I started to get in the habit of holding up time and it got easy after a while,” Ochitwa said. “Midway through I lost track a little bit and did some guessing. I was two seconds away from my goal time.

“I was close. I just need to keep that up for my next time.”

Black and Blue also served as a platform for a new group of Foothills swimmers, the Whiptail Rays, part of a new stream for those looking not looking to for strenuous full-time training.

“They’re usually older kids, 10 to 15, who started late and who want to swim and just not do as much and the training is not as demanding,” explained Carly Ede, who coaches the Whiptail Rays. “They have a choice to compete or not and most of them do want to.

“I don’t force them to swim, they all want to be there which is great.”

Eleven-year-olds Megan Chiasson and Jessica Leskovjan stood out for the coach.

“This is their second meet and they’re already dropping huge amounts of time,” Ede added. “It’s only been two weeks and to drop more than two seconds in a race is huge. I’m just really proud of them.”

For Stingrays head development coach Cara Clifford, Black and Blue offered her 30 young swimmers a rare chance to compete in a meet of this kind.

“They do it because it’s a home meet and they’re actually showing that we can keep up with the kids coming to these invitational meets,” Clifford said. “We have lots of these 10 and under kids with huge technical improvements and race strategies.

“They’re still learning, but they’re going with the flow of the races now.”

Clifford’s swimmers averaged five to 10 seconds of improvement in each race. Highlights included nine-year-old Dylan Fergie’s debut swim in the 200m breaststroke, strong swims from Montana Dobry, Abby Thiele in the 50m freestyle, Brett Harrison in the 100m freestyle and Rory Knox in the 50m breaststroke.

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