You may have noticed a lack of swimming news around these parts for reasons that are obvious to everyone except those who have been performing habitation beneath large boulders.
But swimming is back in this region and for good reason: the Polar Bear Swim Club had itself quite the weekend in Calgary.
Three young athletes — Alex Ketchum, Victor Lumacad and Jacob Mitchener — made up the Yellowknife contingent at the Swim Alberta Provincial Trials and all three are now sporting some new neckware. Lumacad snagged himself three gold medals in the boys 13 and Under division, all in the breaststroke: 50-metre, 100-metre and 200-metre.
And all in rather impressive and decisive fashion, said coach Kirsty Ketchum.
“He was a long way ahead in all of those races,” she said.
Indeed, Lumacad won the 50-metre event by more than two seconds, the 100-metre race by nearly five seconds and the 200-metre race by a second and a half.
Ketchum, meanwhile, competed in the boys 16 and Over division and scored himself one gold medal and two silvers and just like Lumacad, they all came in the breaststroke. The silvers were earned in the 50-metre and 100-metre races while the 200-metre was golden as he touched the wall first in a rather exciting final, a mere three-tenths of a second ahead of runner-up Rio DaCosta of Calgary.
“He was about one body length behind on the final lap,” said coach Ketchum. “It was fun to watch as a coach but I think I shouted my lungs out as his mom.”
Mitchener was racing in the boys 16 and Older division and scored himself a bronze medal in the 200-metre backstroke but it was very nearly a silver. He missed out on second place by three-hundredths of a second and also had several top-eight finishes over the course of the weekend.
One of the added bonuses for Lumacad was nailing down his time for the Canada Summer Games this coming August, joining both Mitchener and Ketchum on the provisional boys team as both had previously qualified.
The meet was held in a 25-metre short-course pool in Calgary, precisely the same length as the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool, but coach Ketchum said she was concerned about stamina, especially in the longer-distanced races.
“We’ve only been back in the water for a short time since the pool was closed back in January but they proved me wrong,” she said. “I have no problem with being proven wrong and the boys did awesome.”
The original plan for Calgary was to have a team of five make the trip but two swimmers had to be held back due to Covid-19. Ketchum, who normally coaches the younger section of the club, was a substitute for head coach Carol Lockhart, who was slated to make the trip but is now in isolation after coming in contact with the affected swimmers.
Lockhart, who was following the results online, said she couldn’t be prouder of how the boys performed.
“The team has survived the extensive downtime and we’re in good shape building for the future with dedicated and engaged coaches and swimmers,” she said. “The weekend’s excellent results are proof of that, to say the least.”
Coach Ketchum said there are plans in the pipeline to try and have the NWT Swimming Championships at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool this coming May but more than anything, this past weekend has given the swimmers motivation to want to do more.
“I don’t know what other meets the club has planned but the drive is there,” she said. “I would love to take some of the younger swimmers south for a meet and maybe we can make that happen but it’s something that needs to be discussed.”