The four Terrace Bluebacks who received medals at the annual Smithers regional invitational say it is their teammates who inspire them.
“Erin kept saying I’d get one and that inspired me,” said Jake Kluss, who took home a silver medal.
“Erin!” The four swimmers shout in unison, excited to talk about their teammate who is recovering from a back injury and has been a solid cheerleader for the time being.
“She always has a smile on her face,” said gold-medalist MacKenzie Bannister. “She’s just really inspiring.”
“She’s really happy,” said Kluss.
“I really wanted Juliet to get a medal,” said bronze medal winner Avery Back, adding that Juliet was very close at both the Kitimat and Smithers’ meets. “One of the things that probably drove me to get a medal was Juliet because she was like a point away from getting a medal. So it was like if she can get a medal than I can too and so she inspired me.”
Back also noted that she trained with her friend Aubrey before the meet and “that helped.”
Kluss jumps in to say that teammate – and, apparently, team clown – Renzo “was most inspiring for me, too.”
The four attribute their goodwill towards their teammates to the size of the squad.
“The reason why it feels so good is that our swim club is one of the smallest ones we have time to grow together a little bit more … all of us know each other,” said Bannister. The amount of time and attention paid to each other is clear as they recount the story of Grace Lukasser realizing she’s won her first medal ever, a bronze.
Lukasser hadn’t expected to place, and was playing a game on a tablet, when “she hears her name, she looks up, she looks down,” said Bannister, as the rest nod in agreement that it was a sight to behold.
“I was confused,” explains Lukasser. “Because I didn’t know if I was dreaming or not.”
The Bluebacks have been sharing that team spirit with Kitimat for the past several weeks, as the Marlins use the Terrace Aquatic Centre while Kitimat’s municipal strike continues. The Bluebacks trained in Kitimat earlier in the year when the pool was closed for renovations, so the team is happy to return the favour.
And the two teams, along with Smithers and Prince Rupert, typically compete together as Points North at larger meets – like the big meet in Prince George coming up mid-month – so it is helpful to train together.
“The people that you compete with are your friends, you don’t compete with them, you become a team with them,” said Bannister.
The Smithers Invitational took place Feb. 28 through March 1 at the Bulkley Valley Pool. Here are some meet highlights:
Mackenzie Bannister – 54
Jake Kluss – 48
Avery Back- 43
Renzo Zanardo- 38
Grace Lukasser- 37
100 % Best Times:
Kaylyn Braam, Jonus Lecuyer, Pasha Schooner
1st Place Individual Events:
Mackenzie:(all 6 events) 100 Br, 50 Bk, 200 Fr, 100 Bk, 50 Fr, 100 Fl
Jake: (3 events) 100 Fr, 200 IM, 50 Br
Avery: (2 events) 50 Fl, 200 IM
Emma K: 50 Fr
Grace: 50 Br
Erin: 50 Br
Renzo 50 Bk
Gold: Mackenzie 10-11 Girls
Silver: Jake 10 & U Boys
Bronze: Grace 9 & U Girls
Bronze: Avery 10 – 11 Girls
Notes: All 23 athletes scored points for the team.