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Pair of Channel Cats shine in debuts on national stage

Hayley French and Caleb Near swim to strong finishes at national-level meets in Montreal and Windsor

Two members of the Orillia Channel Cats Swim Club recently competed in national level competitions.

Caleb Near, 15,  qualified for thr Canadian Swimming Championships held in Montreal and competed in the 100-metre backstroke at his first national-level meet. Near competed in the open age category which meant his results are compared to all males aged 14 and older.

“This was a great experience for Caleb to race in the 1976 Olympic pool against some of the top swimmers in Canada," said Channel Cats coach Meredith Thompson-Edwards.

Near raced a personal best time in the 100 backstroke, 1:01.26, dropping almost a full second from his previous best set in March of this year. He placed 5th out of the 15-year-old competitors.

“The goal was to go experience the meet and hope for a great race without the nerves taking over and Caleb did just that ," said Thompson-Edwards, noting the young swimmer followed his race plan. “Finishing fifth out of the 15-year-old males didn’t earn him a spot in the finals, as he would have had to place within the top 20 overall, but it’s a great start.”

Hayley French attended the Canadian Eastern Championships held in Windsor, which was her first national level competition.

“Hayley qualified in the 100- and 200-metre butterfly at her first Easterns and she just changed to a more difficult age group in March," said Thompson-Edwards, who noted the young swimmer was determined to go and race and learn from the experience.

“This first national meet will help prepare her for more to come in the future," said Thompson-Edwards.

French was competing against females 13-15 years of age overall, and placed ninth in both events among the 13-year-old competitors.

“It’s great to have swimmers qualifying and competing at national level meets. We hope to have a couple more swimmers make Canadian Junior Championships standards which take place this summer in Winnipeg," said Thompson-Edwards.



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