A new generation of South Western Aquatics swimmers are taking it to the next level.
Last year, a trio swam in the prestigious Youth Cup, including Evan VanMoerkerke, now swimming at the university level.
“I’m really happy because I brought nine swimmers and for seven of them it was their first time there (at the Youth Cup),” said SWA coach Roman Ramirez.
“We got medals, we got points, and we were in 22nd place from 35 teams.
“The Youth Cup is one of the fastest swimming meets in short course, 25 metres, in all of Ontario,” noting it is evolving into a national-type meet.
Three provinces – British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland – all entered ‘select’ teams for the Cup meet in Etobicoke, Nov. 29-Dec. 2.
“Everyone else was competing on their own teams. It used to be just for Ontario, but now it’s one of the biggest swimming meets and they are coming from other provinces. Montreal also brought a team, but just as a team, not as a province.”
“I swam great, lots of best times,” said Tyson MacDonald, 16, who competed at both the Youth Cup, and London Nothers, another big short-course meet. “Lots of medals against good competition.
“That was a full taper – our first full taper. Basically three months of basically straight training, then tapered about a week.”
“We tapered for both,” said Ramirez, noting the Youth Cup and London Nothers (Nov. 23-25) meets were only separated by a matter of days. “It was only three days between them.”
Brittany Bell, 13, also recorded numerous best times in the two meets against excellent competition and medaled in six events.
The training, said Bell, ramped up preparing for the recent meets.
“It was intense – it was just try your hardest, do your best, and whatever you do in practice is how you’re going to do in the swim meet.”
After training in Mexico this summer, Bell returned to a fall season with new focus.
“I noticed that I’m doing better and I’m trying harder so I can achieve better goals. The (swimming) times are getting harder, so I know I have to bring my all.”
Brian Boyd, 13, from Langton, has been swimming competitively with SWA for the past four years. It was his second trip to Nothers.
“I did good in this one,” nodded Boyd, who swims fastest in 50m and 100m free. “I got all personal best and I got three medals.”
Nothers, however, wasn’t his biggest event of the season.
“All meets are pretty much the same for me. The competition was harder, compared to the one in Tillsonburg.”
Boyd’s current goal is to break 1:00 (one minute) in 100m free.
“I’m one second off.”
Erica Klosler, 10, recorded several personal bests and came home from London with seven medals.
“I think I did really, really well,” said Klosler, happy with her Nothers performance, and in particular her ‘fly’ events, as she collects Festival (formerly provincial) qualifying times.
“It was hard competition at Nothers – I think it made me work harder. Nothers is a step down from provincials, just a little.”
Roxy Ramirez, 12, was feeling a little ‘under the weather’ at Youth Cup, but still won two medals in 400m (silver) and 800m free (bronze).
“Right before my race, like five minutes before, I puked. Well… I wanted to… I was sick.”
She didn’t scratch from any of her Youth Cup races, however, but her several times were not quite PBs.
“I gained in some, but in some I did really good.”
“She got sick last year, too,” noted SWA teammate Cassandra Drescher.
“The exact same meet,” she added with a laugh.
Drescher aced two events, winning gold medals in 200m IM (a personal best) and 100m breaststroke.
“Which one was the outer lane?” Ramirez asked Drescher.
“The 200,” said Drescher. “I was in the outer lane in the final, and I ended up winning it.”
“Usually lanes one and eight are the slowest,” Ramirez explained. And lane four and five are the fastest.”
Drescher, 14, was seeded eighth in the final after the preliminary race.
“I got last in my prelim heat. There were five in my heat, and there were a bunch of heats.”
Drescher was trying to qualify for nationals in 200m IM, but missed by about 1.5 seconds.
“There’s a couple meets in January that are pretty good,” said Drescher, hoping to nail the time in the new year. “And then in February’s like all of our big meets. Some pretty good competition… we’ll see.”
Her best event might be 200m breast, but she didn’t swim it at Youth Cup.
“I wasn’t there on Friday, I only went two of the four days.”
Coach Roman Ramirez could not say enough about how good the SWA team performed in Etobicoke and Nothers.
“I am really happy with how they did. From intros, they have two months swimming (going into Nothers), and had really good performances. The others, I can tell you 99 per cent best times. There’s no word to describe that. They had some excellent races.”
With Youth Cup behind them, they will begin focusing on Regionals, Provincials (Festival) and Nationals in short course.
“It’s the second phase, and the third phase is long course.”