By Josh Howald
For the fifth consecutive year, Carly Schmidt has advanced to the provincial swimming finals.
Schmidt was one of two members of the Kincardine District Secondary School swim team to earn a berth at the OFSAA championships at the CWOSSA meet last week at the University of Guelph. Ashlee Banyard, the defending Ontario Para 50m backstroke champion, will also compete at the meet, held March 1 and 2 in Etobicoke.
“I wasn’t in the pool much over the summer, so my goal heading into the season was just to qualify for OFSAA,” laughed Schmidt Friday afternoon. “I made it the first four years, so I thought it might be a little embarrassing if I didn’t make it (this year).”
Schmidt certainly has nothing to be embarrassed about. The only other KDSS swimmer in recent history to advance to the provincial finals in all five years of eligibility was Steve Young. Schmidt’s best OFSAA finish came in her Grade 10 year, when she was fourth in the 50m backstroke.
This year, she will compete in the 100m backstroke, her best event. She turned in a time of 1:20.72 at last Tuesday’s CWOSSA championships, good for a fifth place finish.
“I’m not going in expecting to medal,” said Schmidt, who also finished eighth in the 100m Individual Medley and 10th in the 100m back. “I can swim faster, and I just want to go and perform well – a personal best would be great.”
Her personal best is roughly four seconds faster than her CWOSSA time, and may be close enough to earn her a top-10 finish in the province.
Banyard, meanwhile, will compete in the Para 50m freestyle and the 50m backstroke. The 16-year-old Grade 11 student is hearing impaired, and will compete against other Para swimmers in the senior division this year. Banyard also competed in a non-para event, the 50m breast, and finished 11th.
Banyard and Schmidt will be Kincardine’s lone entries at the provincial meet. It’s the smallest KDSS Aquatic Knights team to qualify since Schmidt’s Grade 9 year, when only Young and herself earned OFSAA berths. But Schmidt’s relay team just missed out on a trip to Etobicoke. Joining Schmidt on the senior girls 200m medley relay team were Anna McFarlan, Jessilyn Wolfe and Justine Buchler.
“We were really close,” she said. “I think we had to take six seconds off our time, and we were able to shave four (seconds). I think we could have done it, but we didn’t swim our best.”
KDSS attempted to train twice weekly this season, but was hampered both by the pool closure and by snow days that interrupted practice times. Still, the Knights finished 19th overall in a field of 33 teams, with the females finishing 16th overall and the males in 17th.
“It’s an awesome result for such a small team,” said coach Kelly Young in a press release. “We’re very pleased with the results.”
Morgan Shaw actually had Kincardine’s best result, finishing third in the junior 50m free with a personal best time of 29.57. Three other juniors had top-10 finishes. Matt Woodhall was fourth in the 50m butterfly and eighth in the 50m free. His time of 42.91 in the butterfly was a personal best. Anthony Rowe was eighth in the 50m breast, another personal best, and Michelle Siddon was 10th in the 50m breast.
Wolfe was 10th in the 50m butterfly with a personal best time of 37.03. The previously mentioned senior girls relay team was fifth, and the junior boys 200m free relay team of Woodhall, Rowe, Alex Bogdanovic and Shaw was seventh. The senior boys 200m free team, consisting of Caden Allingham, Matt Mawhinney, Wes Elmes and Alejandro Martinez finished 10th.