Bluebacks back in action

A familiar face will be helping guide the Terrace Bluebacks swim club down the right lane this year

Brayden Phillips (on the right) and River Stokes-Dejong from the Bulkley Valley Otters during the medal ceremony in Prince Rupert. Phillips with silver

A familiar face will be helping guide the Terrace Bluebacks swim club down the right lane this year.

Local athlete Michael Christensen has been elected the club’s new head coach.

He takes over from Nesia Bare, who had been leading the club for the last two years.

“Thank you to Nesia Bare,” said Christensen. “She set the bar high with her energy, enthusiasm and love for the athletes that will be a challenge to live up to.”

Crystal Thomas and Kylie Andersen will complete the coaching team with Thomas taking charge of the Dolphins.

Thomas “has a storied athletic and coaching career in multi-sport including modern pentathlon as a national team athlete, and triathlon both as a competitor and a coach.”

Andersen, a former Blueback athlete, began her coaching career with the club last year.

“She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from her years as a competitive swimmer and her lifeguard and coaching training which she completed last year,” said Christensen.

The club, which this year has 39 members — the highest number in years — kicked off the season with 15 athletes travelling to Prince Rupert for the North Coast Invitational.

The Prince Rupert Rapids showed that they are once again the team to beat as they won the overall team by narrowly beating the powerful Prince George Barracudas.

“Prince George brought Danica Ludlow who finished top five at senior nationals this summer,” said Christensen.

“On numerous occasions I instructed our athletes to watch her as she seemingly effortlessly dominated the competition.”

This jives with the teams goal for the meet: to use it for team building and working on specific technical aspects of their swimming.

“Our athletes responded well and pulled off numourous best times,” he said, even though that wasn’t the goal for the meet.

A total of 126 swimmers from across northwestern B.C. competed in the meet that saw Rupert finish with 1021 points compared to Prince George at 1010 points.

Other results had Kitimat at 372 points, Smithers at 326 points and Terrace at 232 points.

For the Terrace club, nine-year-old “phenom” Brayden Phillips took home the silver medal for the 10 and under boys, even though he was not entered in all of his best events, said Christensen.

“He still has over a full year in that category and continues to impress with his natural and fast stroke,” he said.

Next up, the Bluebacks will travel to Prince George for the Prince George Invitational.

In this meet, the team pairs up with Prince Rupert, Kitimat, and Smithers to race together as a regional rep team called Points North.

“It is a great opportunity to mix with the other teams, challenge and encourage each other, and combine for top-notch relays,” said Christensen.

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