Leah Soetaert in flight. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Leah Soetaert in flight. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Swim BC Provincials: Perseverance Pays off for Leah Soetaert

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club

Last year when Leah Soetaert qualified for swimming provincials in the 50 fly and 50 back, she likely imagined travel, hotel, restaurants, a packed venue, and lively head-to-head competition. That, of course, is not how the 2021 Provincials turned out.

Swim BC moved the competition online, and coaches had until Wednesday, April 7th to email times. In a season with pool shutdowns – and a modified schedule once pools were allowed to open – everyone knew that Soetaert would be hard pressed to get close to the impressive best times she’d clocked in a normal season. To add to the challenge, the timing of the competition came right after the club’s spring break. After a solid performance at Divisional Championships, Soetaert had a reduced training schedule for almost two weeks in the lead up to Provincial Championships.

With no competition, limitations to training, a year of Covid-19 restrictions, and the lack of typical meet atmosphere, how would Leah Soetaert find a way to excel in her two qualifying swims?

Early in the week, it looked like she might not. She tried the two swims on Tuesday morning practice, attempting to race against teammates who were working on a sprint set. Soetaert swam fast – even very fast – by most people’s standards, but the practice atmosphere inhibited her from going the speeds she can accomplish at a race. She tried again Saturday morning, but struggled once more with the lack of meet atmosphere.

“It’s been a hard year. It’s not what we’re used to,” explained Coach Tara Beck, “but on Wednesday, Leah showed up ready to race, ready to shine, and that’s just what she did.”

Faced with the time-submission deadline, Soetaert clocked a blazing fast 30.48 for her 50-meter fly and 32.32 for her 50 back. The 50 fly was mere tenths of seconds off Soetaert’s personal best time, a true accomplishment in this challenging year.

Where did she find the extra speed on this last day of competition? Coach Tara Beck had the idea of pitting two teammates against her. Leah Soetaert’s older sister Holly Soetaert raced her one length (25 meters) and Tatum Kipnik the other.

“We can’t go as fast as her in these events,” Holly Soetaert explained, “but if we just had to swim one length, we could go as fast as possible and really push her.”

Leah Soetaert responded well to the competition.

There was one more secret to Soetaert’s success, though. “My mom told me I could get Chopstick Truck for dinner if I went 30 seconds for my fly.” Leah Soetaert loves Chopstick Truck.

Tara Beck has now sent Leah Soetaert’s times to the virtual provincials. Swim BC will post results once tabulated. Regardless of the final rankings, the Elk Valley Dolphins are calling Soetaert’s performance a big success. Those are times to be proud of in any year, even more so in 2021. The efforts throughout the week – from Leah Soetaert, from teammates, from coaches, from parents, and from The Chopstick Truck – stand as an excellent example of the power of teamwork.



Leah Soetaert on the blocks. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Leah Soetaert on the blocks. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

The Sparwood Golf Club received $1,206.12 for a lighting project as part of its wider renewal efforts. (Image contributed by Columbia Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies)
CFKR allocates over $11,000 to Elk Valley community programs

Over $50,000 was dished out between the communities of the Kootenay Rockies

RDEK is calling for nominations for their Volunteer of the Year award in all six electoral districts.
RDEK posts operating surplus as pandemic reduces costs

The RDEK has posted an operational surplus of $8 million as local… Continue reading

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Fernie Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner has committed to two more years with the team. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press
Fernie Ghostriders coach departs: Wagner moves to Coquitlam

Jeff Wagner will move to the Lower Mainland as associate coach and director of scouting with the Coquitlam Express

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from "F9." (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Most Read