Hope RiverMonster swims to a first-place finish in the Div. 3 girls 100-metre freestyle, at the Chilliwack meet, July 7. Violette Freimark set two meet records at Abbotsford last weekend. (Barry Stewart/ The Standard)

RiverMonsters earn qualifying times for provincials

Swimmers have one more meet, the Fraser Valley regionals at Abbotsford on August long weekend

Barry Stewart

Hope Standard

The Hope RiverMonsters are stroking their way toward the BC Summer Swimming Association provincials, with at least four members already capturing qualifying times. There’s a catch, though.

Swimmers have one more meet — the Fraser Valley regionals at Abbotsford — on August 2, 3 and 4, prior to the provincials in Kamloops on August 12-18. Despite having already met the provincial qualifying times at their summer swim meets, the swimmers must place top-3 at the regional meet, to gain a berth to the provincials.

“It’s a huge meet, at Abbotsford,” said club president Catherine Freimark, Wednesday. “There should be over 700 swimmers there, so they’ll need the eight lanes and three days.”

The Hope club took 24 swimmers to last weekend’s final meet of the regular season, also held at the Abbotsford outdoor pool, which overlooks Mill Lake.

Freimark’s daughter, Violette, had a great weekend, setting two meet records — though only one survived past the finals.

Official times were still coming in at press time, but the president said, “My understanding is that Violette beat the record set in 2011 for the Div 3 girls’ 50-metre backstroke, in the prelims. Then that was broken a few hours later in the finals, by her best friend Sienna Saunders, from Mission.

“Violette also broke the course record for the 100-metre freestyle, at 1:09:59,” added Mom. “I believe there were six records broken at that meet. I think our Ivan Lipnitskiy also set an Abbotsford Course record for 50 breaststroke with a time of 44.16, in Division O, category 1.”

Ivan, his brother Michael, Eli Reist and Violette have shown they have the ability to get to the provincials — and Danika Hope is very close. Now they’ll have to show their best again, without getting a “DQ.”

Not all of last weekend’s efforts were successful, though Freimark said there’s a lot to learn from missteps.

“A couple of kids got disqualified — but they can use it as a learning experience,” she said. “Kids need to be able to make a mistake, learn to correct it, then carry on.”

From its inception, three years ago, the Hope club has grown to 30 swimmers.

“Other than the brand new club, the Aldergrove Sea Monkeys, we’re the smallest,” said Freimark. “They have only 10 swimmers, like we had in 2016-2017, so we’re encouraging them to keep it up. We can help walk them through the steps.

“The RiverMonsters have developed a very good reputation amongst the Fraser Valley clubs,” added Freimark, whose husband Mike is the club’s head coach. “Our parents are great volunteers and our swimmers are such good sports.

“I’m also very proud that the club has more swimmers than ever, making finals in all events. It’s awesome to have the RiverMonsters up on the dive blocks, trying their best and achieving personal best times.

“All of the RiverMonsters swimmers have come a long way this season and have learned important skills, not only in stroke technique — but in sportsmanship, pride and even how to overcome anxiety and disappointment. They’re an amazing little group of great kids.

“And our Mini-Monsters, the 6-and-unders, are so darned cute!” enthused Freimark. “They started out with the coaches swimming with them, holding them up by their tummies, if they needed help.

‘Now, at this point in the season, they can swim the whole 25 metres themselves. They’ve gone from being afraid to go in the deep end, to ‘Don’t touch me — I can do this!’ ”

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