Aquanauts qualify for big meets

They came from as far away as Marathon, Selkirk, Thunder Bay, Red Lake, Dryden, and Kenora, but close to 150 swimmers called Fort Frances home last weekend for the Aquanauts’ annual invitational swim meet.
Nine teams, including the local Cyclone Swim Club, congregated at the Memorial Sports Centre for four sessions of swimming that started Friday evening and ended Sunday morning, where winners were recorded, personal bests were reached, and lots of juice and bananas were consumed.
“Attitude, behaviour, and discipline—they are starting to get that. They are starting to give a little more than they can give,” said Aquanaut head coach Roman Ramirez.
For anyone who has never been to a swim meet, it is a beehive of activity that is run like clockwork, with every minute of every hour tagged for an event.
From the backstroke and the freestyle to the breaststroke, the butterfly, and the always eye-appealing medley relay, the Memorial Sports Centre was filled with athletes involved in a sport that is more about competing against oneself rather than the swimmer in the lane next to you.
“I just told them to do their best,” said Cyclone head coach Debbie Murray.
“As easy as that sounds, that’s what we try to do at whichever meet we go to,” she added. “Sometimes you have a difficult swim and not a good race and other times you have an easier swim.”
That’s the appeal of the sport. It’s you versus the clock, and for many at the meet, it was the first time they had been a part of such an event.
“We have a lot of goals. We have goals for every three months, six months, nine months, one year, two years, and four years, but another important thing is that we have the pre-competitive swimmers here,” said Ramirez, who had six non-competitive and 26 competitive swimmers making up the Aquanaut team.
But it was an important meet for the competitive swimmers, as it was one of the last chances to make junior provincial or national times. It also was the last short course (25m pool) meet of the swimming season before starting the long course events (50m).
Qualifying for the Western Championships, which will be held in Victoria, B.C. next week, was Heather Dutton and Alex Parent while Jessica Lowey, Nichole Lowey, Karli McKinnon, and Parent qualified for the provincials Feb. 24-26 in Nepean (near Ottawa).
“Our swimmers have outperformed themselves. If you look at our results, there wasn’t one swimmer that hasn’t achieved personal bests,” noted Murray, whose Cyclone team was made up of 17 swimmers.
Last weekend’s meet also served as the NWOSSAA championships for swimmers from Fort High, giving them a chance to qualify for the all-Ontarios, which will be held in Toronto next month.
Qualifying for the OFSAA were Rachel Dutton, McKinnon, Parent, and H. Dutton.
Depending on the swimmer’s experience, goals can differ from one to the other, but one train of thought that was shared by all was to go faster.
But even if that couldn’t be reached, the next goal was to at least learn something in the process.
“We have to improve their strokes, make sure they have good technique and for them to swim their regular races,” said Ramirez.
“We hope they learn diversity in different environments and taking those experiences and putting them into that final race,” added Murray.