West Coast Wind Swim Club member Ayva Gunther competed in the provincial championships, achieving Western Canadian standard times in two events.
According to her coach Marissa Schweitzer, Gunther travelled from Powell River to Victoria to compete in the four-day championships at Commonwealth Pool.
“This meet would be a monumental experience for the newly developed West Coast Wind Swim Club as it was the first time attending a provincial championship competition,” said Schweitzer. “As the week progressed, Gunther ensured that this meet would be impossible to forget as she crushed the expectations for each of her events.”
Schweitzer said Gunther entered the competition having achieved the provincial standard times in four events: 100-metre backstroke, 50-metre butterfly, 50-metre freestyle and 50-metre backstroke.
Going into the meet, Gunther’s main goal was to achieve personal best times, and ideally get closer to the Swimming Canada Western standards, which she was hoping to achieve before June of this year.
Gunther was unable to attend the Western Canadian championship taking place in Calgary from March 16 to 19. Schweitzer said Gunther qualified, but too late for this year’s event, so she will qualify to participate next spring.
March 2 was the first day of competition and Gunther swam the 100-metre back and the 50-metre fly events. Going into the 100 back, she was seeded 20th in her age group and managed to come out of that preliminary race in ninth place overall, achieving a first alternate position for the finals session that evening.
“This race seemed to light a fire under her, showing everyone that she could, indeed, hold her own among the best,” said Schweitzer.
For her next race, 50 fly, Gunther was seeded in 16th, and she managed to not only place fourth in the preliminaries, grabbing a spot for the evening’s final session, but also achieved a personal best time and the western standard cut, according to Schweitzer.
Gunther returned to the pool that evening for the finals session and swam her 50 fly again, maintaining her fourth place and lowering her best time once more to 29.29 seconds. The western standard is 30.22 seconds, so she was nearly one second under the qualifying mark.
On March 3, Gunther was set to swim the 50-metre free.
“This is the fastest event in any swim meet and it is known that anyone can be out-touched in such an incredibly fast race,” said Schweitzer.
Gunther went into the race seeded 23rd overall and came out of preliminaries in seventh, once again clinching a personal best time as well as a spot in the finals. That night, when Gunther returned to the pool, she lowered her time and placement once more, achieving sixth overall and a time of 28 seconds.
“On March 4, Ayva was a ball of excitement going into her final race, the 50-metre back,” said Schweitzer. “She was going in seeded in 11th place, her best preliminary seed thus far. From the very beginning of the week, she had been confident that if she was going to make finals in any event it was going to be this one, and after having so much success all week, she was feeling even more confident about her capability.
“In her preliminary swim, she placed seventh, once more achieving a spot in finals, and clinching her second Swimming Canada Westerns standard. Going back to the pool for finals that evening, Ayva lowered her time and placement once more, achieving fifth place overall and a time of 31.63.”
The western standard is 32.40 seconds.
Schweitzer said the entire experience was above and beyond the expectations of Gunther, her family and her coach.
“Now that she has achieved some of her seasonal goals ahead of schedule,” said Schweitzer, “she is hoping to achieve her next goal of obtaining Canadian junior championships standards before July to potentially attend the national level competition in August.”