Sarah Burns Photo
Three members of the Hinton Water Devils summer swim club have earned some exclusive spots for the 2019 Swim Alberta Summer Championships.
Sisters Ashley and Rachel Blais will be joined by local teammate Logan Laflamme at the championship meet in Edmonton from July 4 – 7.
“This happens every year, but the qualifying times are extremely fast. As far as I know, this is the first year Hinton has had swimmers qualify,” said Haeley Lowe, head coach of the Water Devils.
Swimming in Alberta is split into two different organizations – Swim Alberta, which consist of teams that train and swim all year, and the Alberta Summer Swimming Association (ASSA), which consists of teams that train and compete between May and August.
The Swim Alberta Summer Championships is for the year-round swimmers, but Swim Alberta lets summer swimmers who have met specific time standards compete at the meet.
The Blais sisters and Laflamme qualified for the ASSA All Star Team that will compete at the championships.
“Out of approximately 4,000 summer swimmers in Alberta, 21 qualified to compete at this meet, three of those 21 are from our little team!” said Lowe.
“So our usual meets are with the other summer swimmers only. This gives them an opportunity to compete at a higher level with faster competition.”
Laflamme, who will compete in the boys 13 and under category, swept his four races at the last meet held June 22 in Hinton. He has qualified to swim in the 50m fly and the 50m freestyle in Edmonton.
Rachel and Ashley – whose only second place finishes were behind each other at the June 22 host meet – hold a long collective list of club and provincial records.
Rachel qualified in the 50m fly and the 100m fly, while Ashley qualified in the 50m back, the 100m back and the 50m freestyle. Both are competing in the girls 12 and under category.
“Only Ashley and one other swimmer in all of Alberta qualified for three events!” noted Lowe.
“Logan, Ashley, and Rachel are naturally talented athletes , but they have also worked extremely hard to get to where they are as competitive swimmers.”
The Water Devils currently sit third in the small team category of the ASSA rankings, behind Wetaskiwin and Sherwood Park.