Ben, Isabelle and Katie. Photo submitted
Ben, Isabelle and Katie. Photo submitted

Ben, Isabelle and Katie. Photo submitted Ben, Isabelle and Katie. Photo submitted

Dolphins finish 2022 with more records

By Angie Abdou

The Dolphins ended the year with two successful meets. Senior swimmer Kiera Hansen ventured off on her own to an elite meet in Edmonton. The experience of swimming with the best athletes in the country proved inspirational. Hansen set two new club records. The first came in the opening, grueling event of the 1500 free. She paced perfectly to finish the long swim at a record breaking 20:02.91. She placed 9th in the competition.

With Dolphin alumnus Tatum Kipnik having been an exceptionally strong breast-stroker, Hansen has a bigger challenging in attempting club records in those events.

Impressively, Hansen dropped nearly four seconds in the 200 breast to achieve the fastest time an Elk Valley Dolphin has ever swum the event.

Meanwhile, some younger, less experienced Dolphins were at the University of Calgary pool, competing in their first ever out-of-town swim meet. 7-year-old Ben Gillespie was one of the youngest swimmers in the competition. Coaches liked to joke that he was the fastest 7-year-old in the event, and Gillespie quickly caught on that he was the only 7-year-old in the event. Gillespie’s enthusiastic, early racing experience sets him up well for a future of competition.

His older sister Isabelle Gillespie (11 years old) also experienced some firsts at the Calgary meet, including her first-time making finals. She qualified in the 11 & under 200 free as well as being an alternate for the 50 breast and 100 IM. Every time the older Gillespie got in the pool, she set a personal best time. In the 200 free, she took off a whopping 22 seconds and then took off another 3 seconds in the finals, placing 8th.

The Falzon-Knoops, another Dolphin brother-sister team, also experienced their first out-of-town, big city meet, both rising to the challenge. 11-year-old Gryff Falzon-Knoop earned personal best times in every event, taking off 34 seconds in the 50 back to win his heat. His younger sister, 8-year-old Haven Falzon-Knoop, also set personal best times in every event and proved to be quite the competitor, finding a whole new speed than coaches have yet seen from her at practice.

Two more experienced Dolphins Ava Pollock and Katie Hafke also attended the meet, after battling illness for the month of December. They enjoyed the opportunity to be in a leadership role, helping with the younger swimmers. Pollock placed 9th in the 200 breast and Hafke placed 6th in the 200 back.

The Dolphins’ next meet, the first of 2023, will be in Calgary on the weekend of Jan. 21.