It has been an impressive start to the season for the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins and the swimmers show no sign of stopping.
“All our athletes have definitely been higher at the start compared to last year. I have been very impressed with all of them,” said coach Monty Smith.
The club sent three swimmers to the Prairie Winter Invitational (PWI) in Winnipeg over the weekend and all came back with notable results. Eight athletes had qualified of the event, but only three could take the time off school.
“The overall feedback that I got from them and the parents was outstanding. They were impressed with the results after just the third meet of the season,” said Smith.
Joey Derksen competed in the male 12 and under category and had three top 20 finishes. It was his first time going to PWI and he felt good after his races.
“It was really amazing and fun. I got to meet some new competition,” he said. “I was hoping I could get a AA time, but unfortunately I didn’t — I was close…just one second off.”
Kendal Paulsen got her first and coveted AA time at this meet, which was her third swim meet.
“It was a really big thing for me because I realized that my best was enough and that I could get a AA. Everyone on my team is pretty fast and all have their AA. I felt kind of left out, so getting it, I felt really good and helped my self esteem,” she explained.
The event was a bit overwhelming for the 16-year-old, as she is used to smaller events in Regina and Moose Jaw. However, she competed hard in the female 15 and over category and set some personal bests as well.
“I improved on all of my swims and really made me feel good about myself,” she said.
After last season when she didn’t have any times to qualify for this event, she pondered whether or not swimming was for her. However, she battled and this season, she had four times that got her qualified for PWI.
“Before, I thought I would play another sport, but when I started getting better, I started to feel really good about myself and I think if I keep going on the track that I am and getting faster at every meet, I will get there and I’m super excited to see if I do,” Paulson stated.
Richard Tipper was the third swimmer to compete in this event. He qualified in six different events and had four AA times and set some new personal bests as well.
“Winnipeg was exciting. It was a bigger meet than what I usually go to. There were a lot of people and a big age group. I was racing 18-years-old and it was a real challenge,” he said. “It was exciting. This is the second time that I have gone to the PWI. Last time I went and I wasn’t in the same performance category.”
Tipper is hoping to continue on the momentum of PWI throughout the season and has set some bigger goals for himself. This event made him realize that all his hard work paid off and the achievements he has accomplished so far are “hard to explain.”
“It is a real big boost in confidence and it gets you in the mental state that I can do this and I can go up against these bigger people and still perform well,” he said.