Stingrays make provincial history

Swimming: Foothills locks up second banner of 2014 at age group championships

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 06:00 am

The Foothills Stingrays pose together after finishing as the top provincial medium team at the long course Alberta Age Group Championships in Edmonton on July 6. It’s the second provincial banner of the year for the Stingrays.
The Foothills Stingrays pose together after finishing as the top provincial medium team at the long course Alberta Age Group Championships in Edmonton on July 6. It’s the second provincial banner of the year for the Stingrays.
Photo submitted

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Nothing like a shot at history to bring a team together.

For the first time as a club the Foothills Stingrays can call themselves two-time provincial champions in the same calendar year after locking up the medium team long course banner at the Age Group Championships on July 6 in Edmonton to match their short course title from the spring.

“It was by far the best one we’ve done, that I’ve done in six years,” said Stingrays head coach Todd Melton. “They’re so close and they’ve got the same goals in mind and that’s swimming fast — and they swam really frigging fast.

“We’re an individual sport, but we’re a team sport. We didn’t have much competition on the banner this year, but the kids like to know they contribute towards that.”

Foothills’ contributions were widespread in the capital city with a total of 25 medals and countless top-20 finishes counting towards its overall score in the race to its third consecutive long course banner.

“That’s making a statement that we’re one of the smaller teams, but we can still perform on that kind of level,” said Stingray Justin Lisoway. “Going into both provincials we always have a talk about banners and how we’re going to come together as a team.

“We’re always cheering each other on and we’re one of the only teams that does that.”

Lisoway did much of the heavy lifting, contributing a team high seven medals, highlighted by his gold medal in the 100m backstroke in which he eclipsed a provincial record established way back in 2005.

“I just did everything I was supposed to do,” said Lisoway, who touched the wall in 1:03.87. “And it just worked out that way that I happened to get the provincial record. I wasn’t going for it. I didn’t even know what the provincial record was going into the race. I had great underwaters. I worked on my tempo and it paid off.

“That night my dad texted me in the hotel room and I was pretty excited.”

The Edison School student wasn’t done just yet, adding gold-medal performances in the 100m butterfly, 200m backstroke and 400m IM along with silver swims in the 50 backstroke, 200m IM and 100m breaststroke to cap a prolific weekend in the pool.

John Paul II Collegiate student Layne Guidinger matched the four-gold of her teammate, touching the wall first in the 200m backstroke, 200m and 400m IM as well as the 50m backstroke where she edged out a familiar foe.

“I got my long course Senior national time in that and beat one of my biggest competitors, Rebecca Smith (from Red Deer). She usually beats me and holds national records,” Guidinger said. “Todd told me to stay underwater because that’s her weak spot in the race.”

Guidinger added second-place finishes in the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke. Finlay Knox walked away with medals of every colour. He was top dog in the 50m and 200m butterfly, finished second in both the 100m butterfly and 400m IM and was a bronze medallist in both the 200m IM and backstroke.

Kennedy Loewen produced bronze medal swims in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke with Carly Ede earning a silver in the 100m backstroke and bronze in 50m backstroke.

Guidinger and Lisoway were youth recognition qualifiers with top-10 national swims with Knox, Loewen, Deering, Ede, Alycia Weber and Jotham D’Ailly swimming into the top-25. All told, Foothills produced 22 new age group club records and 12 overall club records in Edmonton .

As good a launching pad as the Stingrays could hope for as eight members prepare for a step-up in competition later this month.

Foothills’ Lisoway, Knox, Guidinger, Ede, Deering, Loewen, D’Ailly and Michael McMahon are off to the Canadian Swimming Age Group Nationals in Winnipeg from July 23-28.

The national meet is reserved for swimmers who’ve produced at least three national-time standard swims.

Trouble was McMahon and Deering entered the competition without any.

Better late than never.

The 15-year-old McMahon took a step-by-step approach to knocking down the trio of national times, accomplishing the feat in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke in Edmonton.

After knocking down his first two national time standard swims, McMahon entered his final race of the weekend needing one more in the 200m sprint.

“I really wanted to go fast and almost got third and really wanted to get third,” McMahon said. “I knew what the time was and saw it on the scoreboard.”

Deering raced to national time swims in the 100m, 50m and 200m breaststroke, achieving the latter two in preliminary races. Her 100m swim also earned Deering the provincial bronze.

“I was close in all of them and hoping to get them, but I wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on it and it takes a lot of pressure off the finals if you get it in prelims,” said Deering. “(In the 50) I was focusing on my underwater and my start because that counts in the 50 because it’s so fast.

“Once you get one, it’s not easier, but it just comes to you.”

The 13-year-old’s first trip to nationals will be geared towards experience for future sojourns to the top-meet in the country.

“It’s really exciting and really surprising actually because I didn’t have any of my national (times) before that meet,” Deering said. “My goal is to get a best time. If there is B finals, maybe to get into a B-final, but I’m not putting too much pressure because this is my first nationals.”

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