Stingrays top in their class at provincials

Swimming: Foothills club wins short course medium team banner at Age Groups

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 05:48 pm

The Foothills Stingrays six youth recognition qualifiers pose at the Alberta Age Group Championships Sunday in Calgary. Top row, from left, Blaise Evelyn, Finlay Knox, Justin Lisoway, and Layne Guidinger. Front row, Alycia Weber and Emilia Hesterman.
The Foothills Stingrays six youth recognition qualifiers pose at the Alberta Age Group Championships Sunday in Calgary. Top row, from left, Blaise Evelyn, Finlay Knox, Justin Lisoway, and Layne Guidinger. Front row, Alycia Weber and Emilia Hesterman.
Remy Greer/OWW

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On the day Alberta moved its clock up an hour the Foothills Stingrays sprung forward to top-spot in the province.

Foothills took home the medium team banner at the Short Course Alberta Age Group Championships with a weekend to remember at the Talisman Centre in Calgary highlighted by 17 medals, 58 finals and 41 top-16 placements.

“This (meet) was definitely a standout. This is my sixth season with the club and it was an overall team effort,” said Stingrays head coach Todd Melton. “The highlights were those top few kids, but it was also those kids just making the finals. We had more than the usual amount of kids in the finals so it was very exciting to see all the kids getting second swims.”

The Stingrays, a medium sized-team with less than 100 members, were also the top-points producing team per swimmer at the championships. With 91 Stingrays registered, the team averaged 13.7 points per swimmer, more than any other Alberta club.

“That’s the biggest thing,” said Melton. “That team banner is pretty awesome, but I like to compare ourselves to those bigger teams even though they’re four times the size of us.”

Foothills engineered six youth recognition qualifiers, given to swimmers who post top-25 swims in the country in their given age group. Stingrays Layne Guidinger, Blaise Evelyn, Justin Lisoway and Finlay Knox were top-10 in their class with Emilia Hesterman and Alycia Weber swimming amongst the top-25 in the 13-14 year-old age group.

Guidinger, 14, produced a staggering six gold medal swims on the weekend —100m IM, 200m IM, 400m IM, 200m breaststroke, 200m backstroke and 50m backstroke.

She earned swimmer of the meet honours in the 13-14 year-old age category and qualified for the Prospects West Camp in Saskatoon.

Winning the 50m backstroke earned Guidinger her senior national time and a spot at the Commonwealth Games Trials, held in Victoria, B.C. in April.

“As soon as I got into the pool I knew I wanted to get that time and off the first turn I was first and I was feeling good,” said Guidinger, a Grade 9 student at John Paul II Collegiate, on her 50m race. “It was good because I was at the top of the age group this year and I was going in first in pretty much all my races so I was going in with a lot of confidence.”

Lisoway found himself on every step of the podium, racing to two gold, three silver and two bronze medals in a prolific weekend for the Grade 8 student at Edison School.

He broke the provincial record in the 100m IM, but finished second in the race.

“I’d say it’s one of the best provincials I’ve ever had in terms of getting my goal times,” Lisoway said. “And knowing going into it I’ve done the work and knowing there’s nothing more that I could have done. Whereas other provincials I didn’t have that feeling.”

The 13-year-old edged teammate Knox for the gold medal in both 200m IM and 100m butterfly, where the latter took silver. Knox would add bronze medals in the 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke and qualified for the age group nationals this summer.

“I was going in just trying to focus on what I could control,” said Knox, a Grade 7 student at Okotoks Junior High, on the 100m butterfly. “My technique and trying to get my national time and give Justin a good race.”

It’s been a challenging season for Knox who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, an allergy to gluten, which hampered his training up until a couple weeks ago.

“I’ve been very tired, couldn’t train as hard as I could and I would come home from practice and just be shattered and normally when I’d come home I’d be full of energy,” Knox said. “It was around mid-February when I started to feel much better and train really hard.”

Teammate Kennedy Loewen, 13, will be joining him at nationals after earning four qualifying times in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke and 200m IM. She also qualified for westerns with time-standard eclipsing swims in the 50m and 100m backstroke.

“(The 200m backstroke) is a pretty long race because you have to go pretty fast for all of it, it’s like a long sprint,” said Loewen, a Grade 8 student at Senator Riley School in High River. “My first year (at provincials) was when I was nine or 10 and I’m not as nervous any more for it.”

Twelve-year-old Megan Deering proved experience at the provincial meet can pay huge dividends in the pool, earning a couple personal milestones in Calgary.

“I went under three minutes in 200 breaststroke and under 40 (seconds) into 50 breaststroke,” said Deering, a Grade 7 student at John Paul II Collegiate. “This was my third year and I get more used to it after a while.”

The swim season, more marathon than sprint, continues this weekend for members of the Stingrays travelling to Edmonton for the Speedo Alberta Open, the senior provincial meet.

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