The Abbotsford Whalers turned in a terrific performance at the B.C. Summer Swimming Championships in Coquitlam last week, finishing fourth overall in the team standings.
“Of course, as a coach, I’m thinking of what we could have done to get to third,” head coach Josh Sandberg said with a chuckle, after his team piled up 1,291 points at the provincial meet. “But I’m very happy with fourth in the province. We’ve been in the top five for the last six seasons now.”
Leading the charge for the Whalers were Emily Aikema and Sarah Portas, both of whom climbed the provincial podium in all four of their individual events and tied for team-high honours by accruing 66 points apiece.
Aikema, competing in the Div. 5 girls category, won gold in the 200-metre individual medley and the 100 butterfly, and added bronze in the 50 fly and the 100 backstroke.
Portas also made a splash, winning gold in the Div. 1 girls 50 breaststroke, and silver in the 100 IM, 50 free and 100 free.
Nadia Berard (Div. 7 girls) won a trio of medals – gold in the 100 free, silver in the 50 free and bronze in the 200 IM – while Emily De Jager’s gold medal in the Div. 1 girls 50 free warmed her coach’s heart. De Jager joined the club in May without any competitive experience, and to win a B.C. title is a “remarkable accomplishment,” Sandberg said.
Brenden Saether (Div. 4 boys) fought through a shoulder injury to win bronze medals in the 50 free and 100 back, while Naomi Unger (Div. 1 girls, silver in 50 fly) and Nathan Jongenburger (Div. 7 boys, bronze in 100 back) rounded out the Whalers’ list of individual medalists.
The Abby club also produced a series of medal-winning relay teams, which Sandberg said bodes well for the future.
“A lot of our young kids got the experience of standing on the podium, which was cool,” he said.