Two members of the Battlefords Kinsmen Orcas have qualified for the Western Canadian Championships after stellar performances at the Long Course Prairie Championships this past weekend in Saskatoon.
Brandon Nord and Taylor Parker took home a combined seven medals, but it's their times in three specific races that made the cut for the Western championships, which will be held in Calgary, Alta. next month.
Nord's time of 1:13.29 in the 100-metre breaststroke and his time of 1:01.55 in the 100-metre butterfly were both good enough to qualify while Parker's time of 26.47 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle got him his ticket to the competition.
"I don't know how else to say it except proud," Orcas president Mike Nord, also Brandon's father, said. "Those boys have really dedicated their time to making sure that they reach their goals.
"[And] the school system is working with them so they can help accomplish their goal, too. So there's been a lot of people that I think have been involved with them helping them reach their goal and I think that just shows what community is about, too."
In total, Nord won one gold medal and three bronze, while Parker won one gold, one silver, and one bronze. Nord's bronze medals came in the 50-metre breaststroke, 200-metre breaststroke, and 50-metre butterfly. His gold came in the 100-metre butterfly, which is one of the races he will take part in next month in Calgary. Parker's gold came in the 100-metre freestyle with a time of 58.26 seconds, while his silver and bronze came in the 50-metre and 800-metre freestyle, respectively.
The duo also each set seven new club records and had personal bests in seven races.
But those two weren't the only ones to impress at the competition.
Orcas Madison Higgs, Elizabeth Johnson, and Reece Sommerfeld also all took part.
Higgs set five new club records, thanks to her times in the 50-metre, 200-metre, and 800-metre freestyle, as well as the 50-mtre and 200-metre butterfly.
Although she didn't win any medals, she did have a fourth-place finish in the 800-metre butterfly with a time of 10:41.35 and set personal bests in seven different races.
If you combine her five club records with the 14 combined from Nord and Parker, that's 19 new club records that were set. All of those club records were also good enough for the three to qualify for the long-course championships for Manitoba and Saskatchewan in those races.
"It's incredible, really, when you think about it," Nord said. "It goes back to the dedication and the time that they've spent."
Not to be forgotten are Johnson and Sommerfeld, who each set multiple personal bests and qualified for the long-course championships for Manitoba and Saskatchewan this summer in multiple races.
Johnson had personal bests in the 50-metre freestyle, and the 50, 100, and 200-metre backstroke. All four of those times were also good enough to qualify for the Manitoba and Saskatchewan long-course championships.
Sommerfeld had personal bests in six races: the 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800-metre freestyle, as well as the 100-metre butterfly. Her times in all of those freestyle races got her a ticket to the long-course championships in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
With all of these records and all of these personal best times, Nord made sure to single out one inidivudal who has gone above and beyond.
"I'm very proud of our coach, Allison McLeod, and all of the hard work that she has done and the extra time she has put in," Nord said. "It's really paid off. The kids have worked hard and [McLeod] has worked hard as their coach and I think that's a lesson for life, right? You work hard and it pays off."
Between now and the Western Canadian Championships, which will be held from April 20-23 in Calgary, there are no competitions for Nord and Parker, so that means focusing on just the three races they'll be competing in.
"They're going to be really working hard right up until the time they go to Calgary," Nord said. "That week they'll go a couple days early just to get some swims in that water and get used to that altitude and then they'll race against obviously the best swimmers in Western Canada."
The two have also posted times that are very close to qualifying for the Canadian Junior Championships in Toronto, which will take place this July. If they don't set good enough times in Calgary, they will have another chance to do so at the long course championships for Manitoba and Saskatchewan earlier in July.
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