The EVDSC swimmers had a great time competing in Missoula earlier this month. (Image contributed)

The EVDSC swimmers had a great time competing in Missoula earlier this month. (Image contributed)

Fernie swimmers win medals in Montana

Contributed by Angie Abdou

Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club

On the weekend of June 16 to 19, 8 Elk Valley Dolphins travelled to Missoula, Montana for the 40th Annual Firecracker Classic. With 41 teams and approximately 700 swimmers, the Firecracker was the largest meet the Dolphins have ever attended. “The depth of talented swimmers was the biggest change for us,” said Coach Aidan Chudleigh. “A swimmer like Olivia Howse breaking a minute in a 100 free is still fast, but there are more swimmers in that fast range in these big American meets.”

The Elk Valley Dolphins rose to the challenge. All the 8 Dolphins did personal best times. “They liked the outdoor meet environment,” said Chudleigh. “They were more relaxed and focused on fun. That brought them out of their heads and got rid of some of the anxiety.”

Oliver Hafke agrees. “It felt more like a party. Really social. Then every once in awhile we’d get up and try to swim fast.” Coach Chudleigh added to the festive environment by dressing head to toe in the American flag: USA hat, shirt, shorts, and shoes.

The highest point scorers were Olivia Howse with 101 points, Layla Rella with 96 points, and Dottie Nguyen with 60 points.

Olivia Howse beat stiff American competition to place first in the 200 free. She also brought home silver medals in the 100 free and 200 back and bronze medals in the 400 IM and 400 free. Layla Rella also won a medal, bronze in the 200 free for 10 & under swimmers.

Kiera Hansen took of 2 seconds from her personal best to qualify for the consolation final in the 200 breaststroke. She then took off 4 more seconds in the final to place 24th overall. She swam her first 1500-meter race of the season to place 10th overall.

The local swimmers broke 4 club records over the weekend: Olivia Howse set new records in the 200 free and 400 IM, while Kiera Hansen broke the records in 1500 free and 200 breast.

While the Elk Valley swimmers were busy making waves in Montana, two of the Dolphins were also acknowledged at the Fernie Secondary School athletic awards for their performance in the high school swimming season: Abbi Wannamaker for most improved athlete and Kiera Hansen for most valuable athlete.

The Dolphins’ season is now over for all but the top group who will compete in Manitoba-Saskatchewan Provincials and BC Summer Games, both in July.

Pleased by this year’s growth and performances, the coaches are excited to see the swimmers return to the pool in September for an even greater swim season.

READ MORE: Dolphins break record turnout