At the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australian swimmer Kieren Perkins broke both the 1500 metre and 800 metre world records in the same race.
There must still be a bit of Australian luck floating around the pool at Saanich Commonwealth Place because in early March an Elk Valley Dolphin of Australian descent won gold at B.C.’s highest level of swimming competition in the very same lane Perkins had his legendary swim, according to Dolphin’s coach Aidan Chudleigh.
Olivia Howse, 11, earned her gold medal in the 200 metre freestyle competition at the BC SC AAA Championships with a time of 2:21:33.
She also earned a silver medal in her longest event, the 400 metre freestyle, which she swam in 5:01:48. She got a bronze medal in the 100 metre freestyle competition with a time of 1:05:89.
Howse was the only Dolphin to qualify for the provincial championships.
A total of four Dolphins (Avery Sikkes, Leah Soetaert, Holly Soetaert and Howse) qualified for the BC AA championships, the second highest level of competition in the province, of which Howse was the only one to advance.
Now back in Fernie, Howse’s medals are displayed proudly on her wall.
“I was happy and excited,” she said of her performance. “I like seeing how hard I can go when I swim and just push my limits.”
Howse is a young athlete with an impressive record and a relatively gruelling training regime.
She holds nine individual club records and trains three afternoons a week for an hour and a half. She also gets up at 6:30 a.m. two mornings a week for an extra two hours of training.
She swims an average of three to four kilometres each session.
“I train hard,” said Howse. “I like being in the water and swimming with people, it’s just fun.”
Despite what appears to be intensive training, Elk Valley Dolphins coach Aidan Chudleigh said at this time Howse is still focusing on skill development, technique and fun.
“[Howse] is at the start of her swimming career so there is plenty of room to progress and the training to get tougher,” he said.
Next year Howse will be competing in an older age group, which will be a new challenge as she will get the opportunity to race faster competitors.
“In swimming, times in the 12-year-old age group generally get dramatically faster so [Howse] will have to continue to improve which she is definitely capable of,” said Chudleigh. “There are bright things ahead in her future. Her ability to push herself in training and races is amazing and a sign of the good things to come further down the track in her swimming career.”
“I cannot wait to see what the next season and future brings,” he added.
The Dolphins swim club has enjoyed a successful season where its members have broken a total of 35 club records, “which was amazing to be part of,” said Chudleigh.
The Dolphins train out of both Fernie and Elkford. They currently have 65 swimmers and four coaches and train Monday and Thursday afternoons and Wednesday and Friday mornings. The club caters to all skill levels and welcomes anyone who wants to give swimming a go.