Swim club on the boil

Oceanside’s AAA swimmers are back home from the BCs. From back, Maran Kokoszka, Nicole Biro, Sophie Marshall, Richelle Bruyckere, Laura Romkes. Front Row:  Haley Bennett, Simon Gilmour, Megan Romkes. Missing:  Alex Rocheleau, Joanna Redenbach, Elysia Biro.  - James Clarke photo
Oceanside’s AAA swimmers are back home from the BCs. From back, Maran Kokoszka, Nicole Biro, Sophie Marshall, Richelle Bruyckere, Laura Romkes. Front Row:  Haley Bennett, Simon Gilmour, Megan Romkes. Missing:  Alex Rocheleau, Joanna Redenbach, Elysia Biro.
— image credit: James Clarke photo

The Ravensong Aquatic Centre Breakers were on boil at the BCs last weekend, as 11 local speed swimmers mined a club-high 13 medals — two gold, eight silver and three bronze — at the 2011 BC AAA Short-course Championships and punctuated their rep as the little club that could when two of their own touched the wall for provincial titles.

As always, the bleachers were packed and the noise through the roof as 620 swimmers representing 45 teams from across the province took to the starting blocks for the BCs, which were back at Saanich Commonwealth Place March 3 to 6.

With only 11 swimmers, the Breakers’ were easily one of the smallest teams in attendance, but the team, ranging in age from 11-17, still managed to pile up 630 points on the strength of 13 medals. That’s  good enough for 15th overall in the team standings.

“The place was just packed,” Breakers’ skipper John Campbell said of the provincial championships, which rotates throughout B.C. 

Every swimmer in attendance had to have qualified in at least one event with a AAA standard, which is always the average of the top 24 times in each event per age group over the last three years.

 Nationally recognized Island Swimming, which had over 40 swimmers, finished tops in the team standings.

Campbell said the Breakers’ team standing “is where we normally place, but this time around we got more medals than we’ve ever had. Our highest I think has been nine or 10 medals.

“I’m very pleased,” he said “and extremely proud of the kids, especially considering the adversity our team has been through in the last six months.”

Highlights there were lots of for the Breakers. Richelle Bruyckere finished first in the 13-year-old Girls 400 Free and claimed the top time in B.C. and title of provincial champ with a personal best time of 4:34.98. 

The top eight swimmers out of each event’s morning heats advance to the evening finals — there were 20 entrants in Richelle’s division.

When it was over Richelle had beat out the girl that was expected to win by a tenth of a second.

“When she touched the wall she didn’t realize they were the first two in until she saw us going crazy on the sidelines. She was so thrilled.”

Keep in mind, Campbell added, the day before Richelle reeled in a silver medal in the 800 Free and then added another silver the next day in the 100 Free.

“So she was just getting up day after day (and finishing in the top of her group). I mean jeez, her time of 1:73 in the 100 Free is a fantastic time ... it was pretty cool,” Campbell pointed out, “we had three girls in their respective age groups in the 100m Finals.

“A couple heats after Richelle took silver in the 100 Free with a 1:00.73, teammate Maran Kokoszka, 14, clocks in at 1:00.67, and a few heats after that teammate Laura Romkes, 15, “she goes a 1:00.04,” said Campbell, “and you could just kind of see that there was a very friendly rivalry going on.”

Romkes was one of three Breaker girls to grab silver medals in their respective 800 Free events with a PBT of  9:20.26. Haley Bennett, 11, did it in hers with a 10:26.06, as did Bruyckere at 9:29.10. 

Richelle’s overall performance earned her a spot on Team BC going to compete in the annual BC/Alberta Duel Meet in Lethbridge April 14 -16.

Also capturing a provincial tile in the 50 Free was 11-year-old Joanna Redenbach, who also had a phenomenal swim in the 400 Free the day before in which she lopped 33 seconds off her previous personal best with a 5:21.32.

On Saturday she qualified first in the 50 Free with a 31.03 and then won it all in the final when she went 30.7. 

Other medal highlights included Kokoszka’s bronze in the 200 Back; Bruyckere’s silver in the 800 Free, Laura Romkes’ three silvers in the 800 Free and 100 and 200 Fly; Haley Bennett’s silver in the 400 and 800 Free and bronze in the 200 Free. Megan Romkes, 11, silvered in the 100 Fly and bronze in the 200 Fly. Other highlights saw Alex Rocheleau, 17, who swam a stellar 4:38.8 for a new AAA time in the 400 Free; Bruyckere also established new national age group times in the 100 and 400 Free; Laura a new national age group time in the 800 Free, and Kokoszka, 14, a new NAGT in the 100 Free and Nikki Biro, 13, had best times in her 100 Back and 400 IM, as did Sophie Marshall, 17, in the 100 Free and Simon Gilmour, 11, who went best times in the 50 and 400 Free, the 100 Back and 200 IM.

The Breakers have a long history of provincial champions and podium finishers, but Campbell said he never tires of the excitement of it all.

“Not at all,” he laughed “in fact I think I may have drawn attention away from Richelle because I was going crazy running alongside (the deck) the last 25 meters cheering her on.”




With the short course provincials in the can, the team now shifts its attention to training for the long course season and the 50 meter pools, which is always tricky given they train in a short course (25m) pool, “but of course we’re all still looking forward to them building a long course pool beside Oceanside Place,” said Campbell. “It’s going to be great.”

There are regional meets slated for April 3 in Comox and April 10th in Port Alberni, and the big annual Victoria Wavemaker the end of April “and we’ll be able to take our whole team, all 32 swimmers, down to that.”

For more info on the RAC Breakers, e-mail team manager Sandie Kokoszka at


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