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Channel Cats show resiliency at tough provincial competitions

Despite having heavy hearts and missing their coach, swimmers broke club records, shattered personal bests and shone among the province's top athletes

Five members of the Orillia Channel Cats Swim Club recently competed at Provincial level meets.

On Feb. 22-23 Indiana Abram (12) competed at Short Course Winter Provincial Festivals held in Windsor.

Abram placed 13th in the 200-metre butterfly and once again broke the club record (2:46.78). He also placed 18th in the 50-metre freestyle and 100-metre butterfly.

“I am very proud of Indiana as he had to compete under another coach in our region as I was looking after my mother who was battling cancer,” says Head Coach Meredith Thompson-Edwards. “It isn’t easy to do at any age, let alone 12 and he did a great job staying focused.” 

Sadly, Meredith's mom Elaine Thompson, a long-time Channel Cats coach, passed away Feb. 29.

Zach Moczkodan (15), Chloe Smith (17) and Ariel McGee (14) also competed at Ontario Youth Junior Championships Long Course March 5-8 in Markham.

Moczkodan raced in the 50-metre freestyle (placed 18th) and went a personal best time 26.99 dropping almost a full second, Smith raced in the 100 butterfly (placed 14th) and dropped 4.20 seconds from her best time and McGee also raced in the 100 butterfly (placed 23) dropping 1.88 seconds.

During the same four-day competition Blythe Wieclawek (14) raced at Ontario Swimming Championships Long Course, held at The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Wieclawek qualified for finals in all events and competed in the 100 backstroke (won silver medal), 50 freestyle (6th), 100 butterfly (9th), 100 freestyle (7th) and 200 backstroke (7th). Wieclawek set new club records in the 100 backstroke (1:05.61), 200 backstroke (2:26.30) and 100-metre butterfly (1:04.95).

Wieclawek also qualified for Olympic Trials in the 100-metre backstroke making the standard based on year of birth.

“There are separate standards for Junior swimmers born between 2002-2006, Blythe has had her eye on that standard for a few months now, and has achieved her goal to race at Trials,” says Thompson-Edwards.

“All of our swimmers had to compete without myself there on deck with them, and they did a fantastic job. Also dealing with the loss of Coach Elaine Thompson all at the same time," she said. "I am very proud of their resilience and maturity.

“I know my mom is proud of them all,” Thompson-Edwards added.