Breakers Fab Five to National swim event
Twenty medals and two new provincial champions in three events.
Oceanside’s Ravensong Aquatic Centre Breakers swim club set a high water mark down Island recently as they teamed up to take three gold medals, six silver and 11 bronze.
One of the smallest teams in the mix, the Breakers sent 12 swimmers to Saanich Commonwealth Pool July 7-10 for the BC Long Course Championships, aka the AAAs.
Maran Kokoszka finished first in her 200m Backstroke, and Megan Romkes grabbed double gold, touching the wall first in the finals of both her 100m and 200m Fly. Both Maran and Megan are now B.C. AAA champs in their respective events, and Megan became the fifth Breaker to qualify for the Canadian Age Group Nationals slated for Montreal in late July. The other four are Maran, Richelle Bruyckere, Haley Bennett and Laura Romkes.
The AAAs featured 41 B.C. clubs as well as teams from the University of Alberta and the University of Laval in Quebec.
Island Swimming, which is essentially three Island teams (Victoria Amateur Swim Club, the Tyee Swim Club and the Coho Swim Club ) that band together for big events such as Provincials and Nationals, finished first in the team standings.
The Breakers also had three swimmers who medaled in the BC Open Water Championships — Richelle, and graduating swimmer Alex Rocheleau, both reeled in bronze medals, and Romkes silver — held July 11 at Thetis Lake.
“We had medalists in each age group category,” said one proud assistant coach Gary Cheung. “All the kids exceeded my expectations.
“The energy level was intense from the first moment we got to the pool — there was never a dull moment (and) it was great to be part of.”
This is Cheung’s fourth season as assistant coach with the Breakers. Coach John Campbell is on leave and was supposed to be sailing to Hawaii at the time of the AAAs, but his self-steering broke barely out of the gate. Unable to repair it at sea, he had to return to the Island for parts, “and by the time they came my window became to short (to do the trip) because I told the team I’d be back by Oct. 1 ... I’ll do it when I retire in about five years,” he said.
Campbell then drove down to the AAAs and brought his trademark high octane energy to the team while Gary ran with things as head coach.
“He’s doing a great job,” Campbell said of his understudy, who will be leading the group of six at the Nationals.
Asked his take on the AAAs, Campbell was proud as punch pointing out the 20 medals “was outstanding, absolutely outstanding,” he chucked. “I’m not sure if it’s a club high, I think it is, but if it isn’t, it’s right there ... we have sent more swimmers (to the AAAs) but keep in mind we lost half our membership this year because of the pool closure.”
The Breakers that stuck with it had to travel to Nanaimo to train from June 6, 2010, through to December 13, 2011, while Ravensong Aquatic Center got its big refit.
ON THE STRENGTH of the Breakers’ showing at the AAAs, Swim BC has ranked the local club 14th out of 42 B.C. clubs “and we were the only small team in the top 20 — most of the teams in the 20 are clubs that have between 100 and 250 swimmers — we have 32,” pointed out Campbell.
Swim BC also launched another ranking this year based on Points Per Swimmer, and in that one the Breakers were ranked sixth.
“It’s an honour,” the dedicated coach said of the rankings, “especially in light of the year we’ve had — with very little funds due to lack of membership due to pool closure ... we’re a pretty potent group and adversity always brings out the best in us. I mean we had so many highlights at the AAAs, but three provincial champions taking into consideration our small team size? B.C. is currently the top province in country for swimming, so when you win three gold medals, that’s something.”
The way the story goes another of the highlights of the weekend for Campbell came on the shores of Thetis Lake when Alex, 18, in her sixth season with the club, “won her very first medal as a Breaker in her final event, and you have to remember it’s a 5km swim and not a little dash down the block ... it was so great ... was in tears,” Campbell chuckled.
The BCs were the second of three championship meets. The Breakers sent 18 swimmers to the Vancouver Island Regionals (VIRs) in Saanich June 10-12 and finished fourth in the team standings.
THE BREAKERS FAB FIVE leave for the Nationals in Montreal this Sunday, but in the meantime they’re still scrambling to raise money for the trip.
“We’re still short of funds — we’re digging deep,” said Campbell, “so if anyone has it in their heart to help these kids get to Montreal ...”
Anyone in a position to help the Breakers can e-mail team manager Sandy Kokoszka at firstname.lastname@example.org.