If the early success of Madison Penney is any mark of how the new swim season is going to go for her, it’s going to be one heck of a season.
The 14-year-old member of the Polar Bear Swim Club managed to pull off a podium sweep at the Cascade Speed Meet in Calgary this past weekend, winning gold, silver and bronze in three of her five events. The gold came in the 50-metre freestyle, silver in the 50-metre butterfly and bronze in the 50-metre backstroke, all in the girls 13-14 division.
Her gold medal came in a time of 27.57 seconds, which is a personal best for her in a 25-metre pool. Her seed time going into the meet was a bit faster but that time came in a 50-metre pool at the Canada Summer Games back in August, which meant it had to be adjusted for the shorter distance.
“It’s different in a short-course pool because when you get to the wall, you have to turn and if your underwater work is bad, you will fail,” she said.
The 50-metre freestyle is one of her better events and she said gunning for gold was on the cards.
“I usually do well in it and I set a goal for myself to be there in the final,” she said. “I wanted to beat the other girls bad.”
If she’s upset about any of her results, the silver in the 50-metre butterfly is where it would be. She ended up finishing second by a mere one-hundredth of a second. To put that into perspective, take your index finger and hold it a few millimetres away from your thumb. That’s how much she lost by.
“It really sucks to know I lost literally by a fingertip,” she said. “I would rather be beaten by a lot than a tiny bit because I would know the other swimmer was better.”
Outside of her podium performances, she also finished sixth in the 100-metre freestyle and 13th in the 100-metre butterfly.
Gabriel Leclerc was also in the pool representing the Polar Bears in the boys 16 and over division. He didn’t medal but did manage to make the event finals in all seven of his races, which means top-eight finishes in each one.
The results were music to the ears of Jane Mooney, the club’s head coach, who said Penney’s times were especially fast for the early going.
“If you’re doing 27 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle this early in the season, that’s impressive,” she said. “She had an outstanding Canada Summer Games and she looks like she’s in good form already.”
Mooney didn’t make the trip to Calgary as she was working with the Polar Pups Mini-Meet the same weekend. Both Penney and Leclerc were under the watchful eyes of Brad Murray, who coaches out of Calgary.
Murray helped the club out before the season began with a training camp and Mooney said there will be more exchanges between Murray and the club to come.
As for Penney, she said she’s not totally surprised at the early success she’s had.
“I trained really hard for the Canada Summer Games and I had good times in practice,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a good weekend.”