The first day of competition at the 2015 Canadian Trials was a spellbinding success for a new wave of young Canadian swimmers....except for the one point where it wasn't. And that, too, involved one of the bright, young swimming stars from BC.
Even before finals started, it turned out that 15-year-old Molly Gowans (UVPCS) had put up a performance in one of the early heats of the women's 1500 Free (with the fastest eight seeds to swim at night) that turned out to be the third-fastest - thus earning BC's first medal right out of the gate.
Once the finals session got underway, it was clear that the "next wave" (no pun intended) would play a significant role, as UBCD's Sam Corea won the women's 50 Fly final, with former UBCD swimmer, Noemie Thomas (currently going to school at Cal-Berkley and swimming here unattached) took the silver, while the perennial women's butterfly champion, Audrey Lacroix (still swimming in her early 30s), could manage only fourth.
That was followed by 17-year-old Emily Overholt (WVOSC) winning a fiercely contested 200 Free, narrowly edging Katerine Savard by just 15/100th second. It was Overholt's first National Championship in this event, after finishing fourth one year ago.
In the Men's 200 Free, Jeremy Bagshaw (ISC) won his first-ever National Championship, putting up a time that should ensure his selection to the World Championships team. That event, actually, was a medal sweep by SwimBC athletes, as Alec Page (ISC) took the silver, and Stefan Milosevic (UBCD) took the bronze. Keegan Zanatta and Coleman Allen (both UBCD) made it a Top5 sweep by the BC boys.
World Championship bronze medalist, Hilary Caldwell (PSW), took silver in her second-best event (100 Back), which was shortly thereafter matched by Markus Thormeyer (WDSC) in the men's 100 Back - his first medal at a major Senior Trials meet.
The capping achievement of the night was James Dergousoff's first Senior Nationals win - coming in the men's 200 Breastroke, as he used a blistering final 50m to barely out-touch the reigning Trials Champion, Richard Funk, by a mere 2/100th second.
Which brought us to one of the most controversial turn of events in recent National Championship meets - the women's 200 Breast. To set the stage, we have to rewind to prelims of this event earlier in the day, where Kierra Smith (LLSC), who recently won the NCAA Div.1 Championship in this event, was initially disqualified during prelims. That disqualification was overturned on appeal, placing her as the fastest seed in the final.
In the final, Smith once again was the first to the wall, narrowly out-touching Martha McCabe, but once again, there was a delay in announcing the race results official....with said delay being due to Smith being disqualified. While this elevated Martha McCabe to the gold-medal position and Tera Van Beilen to the silver-medal slot, McCabe's post-race interview seemed to indicate that she was less than thrilled about the means by which she won.
It is indeed unfortunate that that sequence of events cast a cloud over what was otherwise an exciting and invigorating start to the meet. We hope for, and look forward to, more of the latter and little-to-none of the former.