Milestone for Sea Wolves swimmer 

Kat Kranjc becomes first to qualify for Westerns

click to enlarge A SEA WOLVES FIRST

Slowly but surely, the Whistler Sea Wolves Swim Club is starting to reap what it's sown.

The local club, which re-started in 2009, can now boast a berth in the Speedo Western Canadian Open Championships, as Kat Kranjc qualified in the 100-metre butterfly. The event takes place in Edmonton from Feb. 19 to 22.

Kranjc hit the qualifying time en route to a second-place finish at a meet in Langley held Nov. 15 and 16. She also posted a second-place finish in the 50m freestyle.

Kranjc, who is in her fourth year with the club, said she didn't expect to qualify this season, and didn't even realize she'd be off to the Alberta capital until after she'd arrived home.

"My mom told me that I qualified," she said. "I didn't know straightaway."

Recalling the successful heat, Kranjc said: "I had an awesome start, I was staying close to the girl next to me, who had a time that was five seconds faster than me."

Coach Brandi Higgins is confident the 15-year-old Kranjc can qualify in two other events — the 200m butterfly and the 50m freestyle. Kranjc explained she'll be working on her starts, turns, and staying closer to the surface as she tries to shave off that little bit of extra time to make the mark.

Higgins said Kranjc, a former gymnast who stopped because of hip problems, has both a strong work ethic and is built to do well in the butterfly.

"She has a great kick and she has a lot of flexibility," she said.

Higgins explained that as a small club, the Sea Wolves are especially proud to have a qualifier.

"For the size of the club, for the age of the club, it's awesome," she said. "Clubs this size can go 20 years without qualifying anybody in anything, and these kids are doing so well."

Higgins said Kranjc might not be the club's only representative in Edmonton, as Stephane Barnett is closing in on the qualifying times in some events. She noted some of the stronger swimmers are in divisions where competitors are one to two years older, or are currently recovering from injuries sustained in other sports.

Also in Langley, Eric Milley qualified for the SwimBC AAA Age Group Championships, slated for March 5 to 7 in Surrey, qualifying in five events and setting personal bests in each of his events in the process. Georgia Strim (in four events) and Barnett (in two events) qualified for the SwimBC AA Championships, set for Feb. 13 to 15 in Chilliwack. Jacob Spierings and Samantha Deally also set personal bests in all their respective events, while J.J. Deane set new marks in all but one of hers.

The Sea Wolves' next major competition is in Kamloops from Dec. 12 to 14.

The club also hosted the Pass Meet on Nov. 2, with 16 club members and the Swim Faster and Hollyburn Hurricanes clubs taking part.

Macy Kercher and Amanda Constantini achieved their Lower Mainland Region times (4:00 in the 200m individual medley) and are now able to compete in certain provincial meets and events.

As well, the 4x50m team of Kercher, Amanda Wheeler, Robyn Minton and Ruby Mason ended up winning the relay.

Lastly, the Sea Wolves held their annual swim-a-thon on Nov. 23. Higgins said swimmers were enthusiastic, with half the participants completing five km over the course of the event.

"You give them two hours in a pool and say they can do any stroke they want," she said. "You've got eight-year-olds swimming three kilometres."

The swimmers still have time to collect pledges, so the fundraising total has not yet been determined.



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