So that time when the Polar Bear Swim Club was done for the season? Not so fast.
Seven Yellowknife swimmers were in action at the Swim Alberta Summer Festival North in Edmonton on June 18 and 19. The seven were some of the club’s younger swimmers and it was a chance for them to get some race experience, according to head coach Carol Lockhart.
“All of them had to qualify to go and compete,” she said. “They made their times at territorials (last month) and there’s a very good chance you’ll be seeing some of these swimmers on the next Canada Summer Games team.”
Lockhart was coaching in place of her daughter, Effie Lockhart, who was unable to attend due to studying for, and writing, high school final exams.
This was the first real meet outside of Yellowknife for almost everyone involved, she added.
“A couple have travelled before but this was the first experience for a lot of them,” she said. “This meet was the perfect size for them and the level was right where they’re at.”
There weren’t any solo medals but plenty of top-20 finishes, highlighted by Spencer Nelson and his sixth-place result in the boys 11-and-under 50-metre breaststroke. Elliott Fast finished right behind him in the same race in seventh.
On the girls side, Allegra Bard and Rory Lockhart both had top-10 finishes; Bard was 10th in the 10-year-old 50-metre breaststroke final while Lockhart was 10th in the 10-year-old 100-metre breaststroke.
But it was the relay races where the team would hit the podium.
The foursome of Lockhart, Bard, Fast, and Ignat Tarskii captured the bronze medal in the mixed-medley relay in a time of 1:24.41. The medley relay starts with backstroke, followed by breaststroke, then butterfly and ends with the freestyle.
“If I’m guessing, it’s the first time since 2017 that we won a medal in a relay event,” said Carol Lockhart. “It was one of the last events of the meet and the kids were tired but they swam their hearts out and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The same squad entered the mixed freestyle relay and just missed the podium there, finishing fourth in a time of 1:14.11.
The team of seven was supposed to be a team of eight, said Lockhart, but one swimmer fell ill right before it was time of leave while another swimmer, Hayden Wray, ended up getting sick while in Edmonton. But she was determined to swim, no matter what it took.
“It was non-Covid, so we knew it was a cold or flu of some kind,” the coach said. “Hayden ate an entire pack of throat lozenges and was drinking cough syrup every time she could. She didn’t want to miss anything and so we gave her the courage award after the meet — I always give out awards after each meet — and she deserved it.”
The event marked the official end of the Polar Bear Swim Club’s 2021-22 season. The six Canada Summer Games swimmers from the club are training for Ontario in early August under the tutelage of Jane Mooney.
The club will get back into the water for its regular programming in early October.
“We usually get back at it once the annual maintenance at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool is over,” said Lockhart.