Thirty South Western Aquatics swimmers competed last weekend, Feb. 1-3, in the Western Region Championships at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford.
Points were awarded for Top 8 swims, and together, as a team, SWA ranked 10th out of 28.
“I think we came together more as a team at this meet,” said Tillsonburg’s Cassandra Drescher, 14, led the way for SWA with seven gold medals and one silver in nine events. “It was a smaller group and I thought we cheered a lot more than we did at other meets. I think it helped some of the younger swimmers, it motivated them with a lot of people watching and cheering.”
Drescher was happy with her medal haul, but she had hoped for some better times.
“Sunday finals, I was really tired because I had five events. That kind of took me down a little bit. For the others, I think need to work on my stroke a little more. And my turns and dives – I have a really slow reaction time. I don’t think I’ve worked at it (dives) hard enough, I have to start working at it harder.”
Roxanna ‘Roxy’ Ramirez moved up to a 13-and-older division for two events, and a 13-14 in a third.
She won a gold medal in 800m freestyle (13-14), earning a provincial and national qualifying time.
“I also got a provincial time in the 400 free,” noted Ramirez, 12, who turns 13 next week.
“They knew my (Feb. 12) birthday was coming up, so they let me move up. But I think they got confused because… I got second for 14-year-olds, not 13-year-olds.”
Ramirez already had several national times as a 12-year-old, in 1,500, 800m, 400m, but those have been shelved for her new age group.
“If I was 12,” she smiled. “Now I’m just going as a 13-year-old.”
The soon-to-be 13-year-old said she needs to work on her pace before short course provincials roll around end of the month.
“When I’m racing, it’s like I don’t know how fast I need to swim. In my 400 free I did a negative split – my first 200m was slow, then I was faster. You’re supposed to swim faster in the first 200 than the last 200. I went the opposite.”
Ideally, the swimmers ‘maintain’ the pace rather than fade in the last laps.
“That’s what I need to practice so I can maintain it.”
SWA’s winter short-course meet, hosted in Tillsonburg this weekend, might provide Ramirez another shot at a national time.
“I don’t know if there’s a 1,500m, but I’d like to swim that and try to make nationals.”
Brittany Bell, 13, didn’t set any personal bests, but she was close in a couple of events winning two bronze medals.
“I think I was swimming fairly well – not my best, but… Friday, I did pretty well in my 200 IM and 50 breaststroke. Saturday, I swam my 100 breast and 50 free, and those were pretty good. I wasn’t feeling the best – sore throat – but I made finals. Did the best I could in finals (Saturday evening) and on Sunday I ended up not coming back to swim my 200 breast. I just wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to get better as fast as possible, so I can swim this weekend and at provincials.
“After taking that day off, and being able to sleep in, I’m know I’m feeling better. I know by Friday I should be feeling well, and I’m hoping I can do better.”
Her goal is to improve in the breaststroke – events she will be swimming at provincials.
“I’m trying to get past my best times because I’ve been around that range and I’m trying to go beyond that.”
Erica Klosler, 10, contributed to SWA’s medal haul with “a few” medals – seven in total – including a gold in 100m fly.
“Five, six? I didn’t really count,” Klosler smiled, specifically recalling her gold medal swim.
“I think I’ve been getting better in my back – the technique,” she said, noting the event was not her favourite but she did pull off best times in both 100 back and 50 back.
Klosler, who will be swimming at the Festival level at Provincials, wasn’t exactly sure how many festival swims she has so far. She knows backstroke is not one of them. That may change this weekend at the SWA short course meet.
“You never know, I might surprise myself.”