The St. Timothy High School Thunder won a record number of individual swimming banners in the City Championship of the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association on Nov. 29.
With a small team of four swimmers, they returned with six individual banners and placed eighth out of 20 teams.
Aaron Swedlo won the 50m free, 50m breast, and 50m fly races in the green division. Also in the green division, Isaac Thibodeau topped the 50m backstroke and won bronze medals in the 50m free and 50m breast.
New student Brady Malley competed in the blue division and capped off the school's banner wins in the 50m free and 25m back. He added a silver medal in the 25m butterfly.
Sydney Carnegie racked up points for the Thunder, with top 10 finishes in the women's green division in the 50m free, back, and fly.
Swimmers are allowed to compete in a maximum of three events at the championship. There are three levels, ranging from year-round swimmers (red division) to less active swimmers (blue division).
Grade 10 student Aaron Swedlo was competing for the first time with the Thunder but is no stranger to competition as a member of the Cochrane Water Ninjas lifesaving club and Cochrane Piranhas summer swim club. He says the city championships had a different vibe because of the range of skill levels it incorporates.
"In the moment, and even now, it's really awesome," he says, "but at the same time, and I'm not trying to brag, I wasn't swimming my best times, so it felt awesome swimming, but at the same time I looked at the clock and said that was a bad race."
Malley is part of the school's hybrid program of online and in-school studies. He is a member of the Water Ninjas and was excited to join another club.
"I've done 50m free before, but all the other events I'd never done before, so it was just a really fun opportunity to do those."
He says the team was small enough to travel to the event in a mini-van but was mighty.
"All the other teams had 15 or more swimmers. We only had four swimmers, but we were a really strong team for our size."
It's been a tough few years for the swimming championships. St. Tim sent its first teams in 2018 and 2019, with Bria Michalski winning a banner for 50m breast in both. The championship and the school's swimming team program were halted in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Head coach Amy Swedlo is excited about the team's potential. She says they have several junior high swimmers that could potentially be competing in the future.
"I don't think any of them are in grade 9, so I won't see any of them competing next year, but if they practice next year, the following year they can compete," says Swedlo.
"We would like to see it a bit bigger. We came in eighth place with only four kids, so that's crazy. We did really, really well. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see a St. Tim's banner. That would be exciting."
While junior high students can't compete, they are welcomed at team practices.
The Thunder swimming team begins training in mid-October and wraps up with the city championships. With limited time slots available at the aquatic centre, they trained from 6 to 7:30 a.m. and had 10 practices.
Team manager Travis Cummings salutes the athletes for their incredible performance and thanks Coach Swedlo for making the season possible.
"The team would not have happened without her guidance," says Cummings.
He also thanks the other St. Tim's teachers who also assisted.