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Checking out the flip-side of the NOSSA Swim Championships

The recognizable faces of the club swimmers might well have dotted the recent NOSSA Swimming Championships at the Howard Armstrong Sports Complex, but it's those athletes with far less time in the water that garner the real concentration of numbers at this event.

In many ways, they are also the real story, putting themselves out there in the majority of cases without having the benefit of having logged literally hundreds of hours of training time in the pool.

Gord Farrell (Lockerby Composite) captured the boys 15 and under 50m freestyle race (34.56) and was also part of a part of the Vikings relay teams that will make their way to OFSAA, following in the footsteps of his older brother (Joe) who is wrapping up his high-school swimming career this year.

"When I was five or six, I was with Laurentian (Swim Club), just learning how to swim, I guess," said Farrell. "But every summer at my camp, me and my dad swim across the lake pretty much every day - or we try to, anyways."

For as much as the freestyle might be the most natural starting point for even non-club swimmers, the decision by Farrell to take on the butterfly leg of the relays was, well, an interesting one, to be sure.

"I did the butterfly for the medley just because nobody else really knew how to do it and I had tried it at my camp a couple of times," said Farrell with a smile. "It's really hard. For the first couple of times, my legs were just kind of dangling. I didn't know how to do the dolphin kick."

"With the coaches, I kind of got used to it - but I am still pretty raw at it, to be honest."

And that wasn't the only area where a steep learning curve was involved, given that his LUSC time truthfully amounted to covering off the very basics of the freestyle stroke, so many years ago.

"The flip turns took me a really long time to get used to," Farrell added. "My brother has done this for three or four years, so he kind of told me how to do everything. I was mostly looking at the line (on the bottom of the pool) and I really didn't know where to go."

"Every time I did a turn, I would come out in a different spot. When I found a good spot, I kind of got used to it."

If only these races could be held in one large one hundred metre long pool, eliminating the need for relative newcomers to swim racing to contort their bodies in a million and one directions at each end of the pool.

"My flips turns have improved a lot," noted 17 year old Emma Tarini from E.S.C. Sacré-Coeur, placing fifth in a field of 16 swimmers in the girls 16 & over 100m backstroke.

"When I was doing my backstroke, I would go to one side of the lane and then hit my hand on the rope, all that kind of stuff. I was all over the place."

Of course, practice makes perfect - even if it also serves as a constant reminder of the "Do's" and "Don'ts" of each technical skill to be mastered.

"For my flip turns, I count my strokes after the flags - usually five strokes," said Tarini. "And then I flip and do my turn. But when I don't have my nose-clip on, I really have to make sure to blow my bubbles."

"If I don't, I get a mouthful of water and that doesn't help."

But if there is one very clear benefit to mixing in club and non-club swimmers together, it lies in the form of the helping hand that the former can provide to the latter.

"We have a competitive swimmer on our team (Jacob Guillet) and he really helped me improve a lot, reminding me to kick more," added the eldest of two girls in the family. "Sometimes I forget to kick and I just use my arms. Jacob is really someone to look up to on our team."

Participating for the first time this year, Confederation Chargers' junior swimmer Isabella Potvin now has a starting point for future growth, already noticing the progress that she has made in the pool.

"I've been a swimmer, swimming in lakes and stuff - and my cousin was already on the team and she asked me to join," said Potvin. "You have to learn to swim differently than the way you were swimming, to swim the right way."

"With my breaststroke, I used to do my arms and legs at the same time. If you want to conserve energy, you need to do them at seperate times."

And while she may not have hit the podium just yet, Potvin remains as convinced as ever that she will return, next winter.

"It's super fun," she said. "Everybody is super supportive - and it makes you a way stronger swimmer. It's fun to see your times and how you're improving."

Following is a breakdown of all of the individual race winners for the six categories that were contested:

Girls 16 & Over
50m freestyle - Norah Morrissey (Lockerby) - 28.69
100m freestyle - Norah Morrissey (Lockerby) - 1:05.00
200m freestyle - Anna Oberthier (Marymount) - 2:37.55
50m butterfly - Heidi Fink (Macdonald-Cartier) - 33.31
100m backstroke - Emilie Ladouceur (Sacré-Coeur) - 1:20.67
100m breaststroke - Jenna Deveau Peddie (Bishop Carter) - 1:40.60
100m individual medley - Emilia Rietze (Lockerby) - 1:31.52

Boys 16 & Over
50m freestyle - Salomon Beristain (Lo-Ellen) - 28.17
100m freestyle - Callum Baron (Lockerby) - 1:13.06
200m freestyle - Owen Dobson (Lo-Ellen) - 2:39.51
50m butterfly - Joe Farrell (Lockerby) - 33.92
100m backstroke - Coheed Hingst (Lasalle) - 1:11.03
100m breaststroke - Salomon Beristain (Lo-Ellen) - 1:27.06
100m individual medley - Coheed Hingst (Lasalle) - 1:09.93

Girls 15 & Under
50m freestyle - Tia Kingshott (Marymount) - 33.00
100m freestyle - Tia Kingshott (Marymount) - 1:17.99
50m backstroke - Eva Jessup (Notre-Dame) - 42.41
50m breaststroke - Saryn Gainer (Lockerby) - 49.75
50m butterfly - Kyla Turner (Lockerby) - 44.00
100m individual medley - Chloe Ortiz (Lo-Ellen) - 1:29.88

Boys 15 & Under
50m freestyle - Gord Farrell (Lockerby) - 34.56
100m freestyle - Tomas Corsi (Lockerby) - 1:41.79
50m backstroke - Finn Michaud (Notre-Dame) - 36.75
50m breaststroke - Grayson Hingst (Lasalle) - 38.94
50m butterfly - Finn Michaud (Notre-Dame) - 33.29
100m individual medley - Grayson Hingst (Lasalle) - 1:20.53

Open Girls - Club
50m freestyle - Jayda Hartley (Marymount) - 29.31
100m freestyle - Jayda Hartley (Marymount) - 1:03.12
200m freestyle - Lauren Buchowski (St Benedict) - 2:18.28
100m backstroke - Kiana Smith (Marymount) - 1:12.23
100m breaststroke - Maddie Veevers (Lo-Ellen) - 1:23.24
100m butterfly - Grace Thomas (Lo-Ellen) - 1:13.50
100m individual medley - Coralie Bernier (Horizon) - 1:15.62
200m individual medley - Grace Thomas (Lo-Ellen) - 2:41.50

Open Boys - Club
50m freestyle - Adan Lindfield (St Benedict) - 25.28
100m freestyle - Benjamin Schell (St Charles) - 58.13
200m freestyle - James Bertrim (Lockerby) - 1:55.84
100m backstroke - Benjamin Schell (St Charles) - 1:03.60
100m breaststroke - Shane Clapham (St Benedict) - 1:10.54
100m butterfly - Noah Rioux (St Charles) - 1:03.36
100m individual medley - Jacob Guillet (Sacré-Coeur) - 1:07.34
200m individual medley - James Bertrim (Lockerby) - 2:10.89

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