Sea Lions make splash at provincial event
It was a sizzling weekend for the Central Plains Sea Lions at Winnipeg's Pan Am Pool for the Manitoba Jr. Provincial Swimming Championships. The Portage club sent seven members and had a very dominant performance repeating as small club champions. The club had very strong individual performances from all of its members, as each swimmer was able to attain some hardware. With a combined total of 28 total medals, 14 of which were gold, the club has been able to maintain itself as a strong force in Manitoba swimming community. The club claimed two gold medals in the freestyle and medley relay with swimmers Brett and Jared Vachon, Bryce Kwiatkoswki, and Geniko Hildebrand. The team posted the fastest time of all the clubs at the meet. The lone female Sea Lion competitor, Sadie Cochrane, was able to use what she learned from her first experience at provincials back in February to help her attain two bronze medals in the 100 and 200m backstroke. On the boy’s side, the Sea Lions ranked third overall in score, behind the Manta Swim Club and the Manitoba Marlin Swim Club - two of the largest clubs in the province. The 16 and over boys age group proved to be a very tough draw this year, with swimmers attending university also attending this meet. Individually, Geniko Hildebrand earned a silver medal in the 100m individual medley with a time of 1:16.66. Jared Vachon was also able to pull in some hardware earning gold in the 400m free, silver in the 50m back, 100m fly, 50m breast, bronze in the 200m free. "There is a big difference physically between a 16-year-old and a 20-year old, and for Geniko and Jared to be able to get some medals in this age group is a remarkable feat," says Sea Lions coach, Rob Pehura. In the 14 and 15-year-old age group, Matthew Mcewing claimed his first individual medal in this age group, a silver in the 50m fly. M Neepawa native, Bryce Kwiatkowski, also had a strong meet in this age group. He was able to attain four individual golds in the 200m IM, 200m breast, 100m breast, and 50m fly. He also gained two silvers in the 50m free and 50m back, and a bronze in the 100m free. Kwiatkowski was also awarded the Highpoint Trophy for the 14 and 15-year-old age group for the second time this year and made the AA cut for his 100m breast. Brett Vachon had his final meet in the 11-13 age category and wowed the pool with the third fastest 50m fly in a time of 31:12, swimming to a gold medal in his age group. His time would have earned bronze in the 16 and over age group which was done one other time in Portage history by former swimmer Rachel Boulet nearly a decade ago when the Portage Piranha Swim Club was operating. Vachon also earned silver in the 200m IM, and 100m fly. The biggest Sea Lion winner was 10-year-old Carson Pehura with six individual gold medals and one silver medal. Pehura won gold in 200m IM, 100m fly, 100m free, 50m fly, 100m IM and 50m free and the silver was in the 200m free. With his medal count, Pehura was able to win the top 10 and under award. Coach Pehura says he's proud of the accomplishments of the swimmers over the weekend and notes that after a long season, the team was able to finish off on a strong note. With the season coming to a close for some Sea Lions, it will continue with the final meet on the calendar, ManSask Championships, for Brett and Jared Vachon and Bryce Kwiatkowski, held in Winnipeg the first week of July for AA qualifiers with swimmers from all across Canada competing.