NANAIMO – A tradition that's been going on for more than a half century continued over the long weekend.
The 52ndNanaimo Invitational Meet was put on by the Nanaimo White Rapids Swim Club at the Kin Pool.
Of the 440 swimmers there were 175 from Nanaimo with the rest from Vancouver Island, Cloverdale, and Coquitlam.
White Rapids head coach Baylee Munro says most of the competitors range in age from four to 22-years-old but there were a couple of older athletes in their thirties in the pool as well.
“It's always been run on the Canada Day weekend which means it's often one of the first things kids are going to do when they get off of school,” said Munro. “So there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of excitement. This will be the weekend where families typically go on vacation afterward.”
One of Nanaimo's Senior swimmers Ava Johnson recorded a personal best with a time of 30.25 seconds in the 50 Freestyle.
The 16-year-old NDSS student has been swimming for the past eight years and calls the Nanaimo Meet her favourite event.
Another local swimmer Finn Bodnar took third place in the 50 Freestyle.
He's currently going to Dover Bay Secondary and has been giving back to the club as a coach.
The 16-year-old has been inspired by his current coach Baylee Munro and his first coach Byron Trajan.
A number of locals had excellent weekends in the pool, headlined by Nick Bennett.
Bennett has broken through many barriers in the pool and in dealing with autism.
The multiple Canadian Para-Swimming record holder had a trio of personal bests (200m Individual Medley in 2:21.63, 100m Backstroke in 1:08.54, 100m Breaststroke in 1:11.11). The 14-year-old won all of his events.
His success has put him on the radar as someone who may one day compete at the highest level for Canada.
Division 5 swimmers Cameron Laturnus and Stewart Stephen had a tight battle in the 100m Freestyle. Stephen posted a new personal best winning the event in 59.63, just ahead of Laturnus at 59.83.
Taylor McPherson and Faith Telfer are in the 8-years-old and under division and are ranked as the top two island swimmers across multiple events.
McPherson is in her first year with the club and won the 50 Freestyle with a time 39.70.
Here's a short video montage of the Nanaimo Meet from June 29 and June 30.
The next big events for Nanaimo's most competitive swimmers are the Regionals in Duncan at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre on August 3 and then Provincials August 17 in Surrey.
Training will continue throughout the summer with regular sessions at the Kin Pool.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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