Howse sisters, Olivia and Josie, at finals with coaches Aidan Chudleigh and Angie Abdou. (Image courtesy of Wendy Howse)

Howse sisters, Olivia and Josie, at finals with coaches Aidan Chudleigh and Angie Abdou. (Image courtesy of Wendy Howse)

Elk Valley Dolphins win medals in Calgary

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club

The Elk Valley Dolphins took thirty swimmers to compete in Calgary on the weekend of November 19th, a record number of out-of-town competitors for the club at this fall meet. The results confirmed the continual growth of the team in terms of both numbers and performance.

Fernie swimmers broke five club records. Olivia Howse set new records in the 100 and 200 free as well as the 200 back. Leah Soetart swam record-setting times in the 50 and 100 back. Kiera Hansen set a new record in the 200 fly.

The Dolphins are also seeing more swimmers than ever make the finals. Cadence Prefontaine (12) made her first final in the 50 fly, moving up from 8th in the heats to 7th. Emilie Harrup (9) also swam her first big city finals in both the 100 and 200 free, placing 6th and 8th respectively. In the 16 & over men’s category, Jackson Radkie placed 6th in the 50 back, less than a second out of the medals. In 11-12 girls, Josie Howse earned 4th in the 400 free and 8th in both the 50 and 200 free. In senior women, Kiera Hansen placed 6th in the grueling events of 400 IM and 200 fly.

Several Dolphins also landed on the podium over the weekend. 10-year-old Layla Rella led the way with gold medals in the 200 back, 50 fly, and 50 back and silver medals in the 200 IM, 100 breast, and 50 free. Olivia Howse put in admirable, strong performances to win gold in the 200 free, silver in the 200 back, and bronze in the 100 back, as well as top-8 finishes in all her other events. Leah Soetaert also swam blazing fast to finish with a bronze medal in both the 50 and 100 back as well as eighth in the 50 fly.

The Dolphins have traditionally had relatively few swimmers making the finals, and Coach Chudleigh likes the change. “There’s good energy down on the deck now with more swimmers qualifying and the spirit is high,” he said. “It’s good for the parents up in the stands too. We’ve always got someone for them to watch.”

The Dolphins have a full schedule through December, attending meets in Calgary on the weekends of December 11th and 17th as well as hosting a clinic just before Christmas. Olympian Kiera Smith is coming to Fernie to work on the swimmers’ starts and turns.

“We’re swimming well,” said Coach Chudleigh. “Now we have to focus on improving some technical details. Our wall work could be stronger. We have room for improvement on starts and turns. This is a good place to be in November. We’re fit. We’re going fast. Now it’s time to work on perfecting those skills.”

The team had two new provincial/state qualifiers on the weekend. Layla Rella qualified for Man/Sask provincials, and Katherine Hafke qualified for Montana State Championships.

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