By Josh Howald
Ashlee Banyard is a provincial champion.
The 15-year-old Kincardine District Secondary School Grade 10 student raced to a first place in the 50m backstroke Wednesday in Etobicoke.
Ashlee Banyard with her OFSAA gold medal. (submitted photo)
“I’m so happy,” said Banyard Thursday afternoon. “It was a tiring race and I had to keep telling myself to keep going – and it was worth it.”
Banyard, who is hearing impaired, competed in the junior para division as a member of the KDSS Knights Aquatic team.
Her time in the backstroke was a personal best, 48.13, and fast enough to top the podium at last week’s OFSAA swim meet. Banyard was also fourth in the 50m freestyle, with a time of 43.82 – another personal best.
She was Kincardine’s top finisher at last week’s provincial championships, held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Etobicoke Olympium.
Banyard races against other disabled swimmers from around the province. Because of her hearing impairment, she must watch for a light to flash on her starts. She has been training twice a week with the KDSS team, and also trains twice each week in the summer months as a member of the Kincardine Kippers.
“I just like the thrill of racing,” she said. “It’s rewarding for me even if I don’t win, I just love to race.”
Banyard, whose motto is ‘never give up’ wanted to thank her family and her coaches, as well as everyone else who has supported her along the way.
The Knights were coached this season by Lee-Anne Edmunds, Sandie Banyard and Kelly Young with support from teacher advisor Carrie Houghton.
“It was a little awkward at first because the coaches weren’t sure how to go about the training,” said Banyard. “But we ended up teaching each other and learning a lot.”
But there was also some disappointment at the OFSAA meet.
Steve Young was unable to repeat as a provincial champion. Despite finishing an impressive sixth in the province in both the 100m Individual Medley (IM) and the 100m backstroke, Young was disappointed in his times, which did not approach his personal bests. He swam the IM in 1:07.29 and the 100m backstroke in 1:07.27.
Carly Schmidt, competing in the senior division for the first time, was 18th in the 50m freestyle with a time of 30.93. She was also 12th in the 100m backstroke, swimming a personal best time of 1:18.74.
The senior boys 200m freestyle team finished 23rd with a time of 1:54.74. That team consisted of John McCool, Alex Morariu, Caden Allingham and Young. Overall, the boys were 42nd of 139 teams with 80 total points.
The girls team, which consisted of only Schmidt, was 89th of 152 teams with 37 points. The Open/Para team, consisting of Banyard, was 67th of 166 teams with 72 points.
The combined team score of 189 points placed KDSS 63rd overall. A total of 270 teams attended the provincial championship meet.