Jon McKay (UVPCS) wrapped up the Canada Games for Team BC with impressive performance which yielded him two medals in the final 24 hours of the Games swimming competition.
McKay got Team BC off to a great start on the final night of finals at the University of Sherbrooke pool by handily winning the men's 1500 freestyle at the start of the session. While McKay went into the event seeded just fourth, he established a pace early on that left the other contenders struggling to keep up. By the time the leaders passed the halfway mark, McKay had opened a bit of a gap and then continued to extend it, eventually winning in a new personal best time and Games record of 15:40.35.
Just over 12 hours later, McKay was on the start line in Lac Magog for the start of the men's 5000m open water race. The rest of the field knew that McKay was the guy to beat and swam their race accordingly, not giving him much room to manouveur; the two Quebec open water specialists worked especially well together, squeezing out McKay as the race came around the last marker buoy and into the final 160m sprint to the finish.
At the end, with McKay finally finding a little bit of open water, he was closing quickly on the two Quebec front-runners, but ran out of water, but out-swam Oliver Strazsynski of Ontario to take the bronze medal.
Sarah Mabee-Hall (IS) was the BC's women's entrant in the 5000m race, and she also had a very strong race; a small group of women took off early at a pace that Sarah couldn't hold, but she found another group to race in and eventually finished in an impressive sixth place.
Getting back to the pool, Thursday night was BC's best night of the Games, with 20 of the 23 swims on the night being in the "A" final.
Emily Overholt (WVOSC) continued her domination in the women's events, winning another gold medal in Games-record-breaking time. All told, Overholt finished the meet with three gold and one silver medal - best total of any swimmer at the meet - and with each of the gold medals also breaking the existing Games record.
Dalton Boon (WDSC) added Team BC's one other gold medal on the final night at the pool, his coming in the Men's 50 Free for para swimmers. His time there also tied the existing Canadian record for para-swimmers in the S14 class.
Sergey Holson (UBCD), after narrowly beating his teammate Justin Chan (UBCD) to claim the second and final slot in the "A" final for Team BC (teams are only allowed to advance two swimmers into the "A" and "B" finals combined), went on to win the silver medal in the event, missing the gold by a mere 1/100th second.
Danica Ludlow (PGB) delivered her best swim of the meet in her final race, the women's 800. Despite being back as far as sixth place early in the race, Ludlow slowly but surely starting picking off other swimmers, eventually moving up to second with just 100m to go, and then was able to hold off strong pushes from the other competitors to take the silver.
Robert Hill (CHENA) had a strong meet all week, putting up lifetime best performances pretty much every time he hit the water. In his final race, the men's 200IM, he was in a great position for a medal through the final 50m of the race, but came up just shy of what would have been a well-deserved bronze medal, missing out by just 7/100th of a second. While it was disappointing for Hill, he nonetheless gained a lot of confidence being able to race with and compete at such a high level of the sport.
Our para- and Special Olympic swimmers continued to do well for Team BC as well, with Magnus Batara winning bronze in the SO 50 Free and Avery Newton (KISU) also taking bronze in women's para-50 Free. Tyler Mrak (SKSC) finished 6th in para-50 Free and para-200 IM, and David Dunn did likewise in SO 50 Free with Courtenay Rekis finishing 8th in that same event.
Our other finalists included Jonathan Kraft (WDSC) and Amy Sun (WVOSC), both 5th in 50 Free; Melissa Jung (CHENA), 7th in 50 Free; Luke Reilly (UBCD), 5th in 200 IM; and Haley Black (PGB), 4th in 200 IM.
Overall, it was a great meet with a great group of swimmers. The team came together exceptionally well over the 12 days at our staging camp and then the 8 days in Sherbrooke for the meet.
Five members of the team (Markus Thormeyer, Luke Reilly, Stefan Milosevic, Emily Overholt, and James Dergousoff) now head off, along with Team BC coaches Janusz Kaczmarek and Brian Johns, to the FINA World Junior Championships, which start in just over two weeks in Dubai, UAE.