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Cochrane Piranhas | TheRockies.Life Staff

Swim Sensations: Cochrane Kids Rewrite Record Books

Local swimmers brought home an impressive haul of 20 medals, including 11 gold, five silver, and four bronze.

A chill is in the air along with morning dew, a telltale sign that summer is nearing its end. The end of summer also means summer sports clubs like the Cochrane Piranhas Summer Swim Club are wrapping up their season.

But the Piranhas weren’t about to finish the season without tearing apart their competition at the 2023 Alberta Summer Swimming Association (ASSA) provincial championships!

The ASSA is a not-for-profit organization that provides summer swimming programs for all ages. To qualify for the provincials, swimmers must win an event or place second in select events at regionals.

a group of boys from the cochrane piranhas swim club with medals around their neck
The boys from the Cochrane Piranhas swim club with their medals from the ASSA regionals | Cochrane Now

That’s precisely what the Piranhas did. At the ASSA regionals at Calgary’s MNP last month, 38 of the club’s swimmers qualified for provincials. Every Piranha swimmer clocked personal best times, and only four didn’t make the finals.

“They slammed best times for every single one of their races, so they may not be the ones that you’re gonna hear about in the news of being the top performer, but they knocked it out of the park,” head coach Amy Swedlo told Cochrane Now.

With only a few days to rest and practice, the Piranhas were back in the pool for the ASSA provincials held in Edmonton from August 18 to 20.

The Piranhas showcased their talent during the event, bringing home an impressive haul of 20 medals. This included 11 gold, five silver, and four bronze.

“We really exceeded our expectations and goals of what we thought the kids would achieve,” Swedlo told the Cochrane Eagle.

To end the season on a high note, the Piranhas set 10 new club records at the provincials.

Notable record-breakers included Oliver Johnson and Caebri Smith in the male 13-14 age bracket. Soleil Pugliese in the female 15-17 age bracket, Lennon Arsenault in the female 7-8 category, and Max Kruger for the male 18-plus group.

Smith set three individual records for the Piranhas in the freestyle stroke for different distances. Meanwhile, Johnson set four records in freestyle, butterfly, and individual medley.

“Oliver and Caebri won every single one of their events quite handily, so they both came back with four individual gold medals and dominant performances in all their races,” commented Swedlo.

a group of male swimmers diving into the pool to start a race
Competitors at the 2023 ASSA provincials held at the Kinsmen Sport Centre in Edmonton | The Cochrane Eagle

One piranha is scary enough, but a whole shoal of them? Good luck. Two Piranhas’ relay teams set club records in the male open category.

The 200-metre medley relay team of Thibodeau, Kruger, Aaron Swedlo, and Tony Koo broke the first record. The team earned a team-best time of 2:02.77.

Similarly, the 200-metre relay team of Swedlo, Koo, Thibodeau, and Bryson Hammer finished with another club record of 1:49.36. However, the Piranhas didn’t walk away with the win.

Last year, the swim club was classified as a medium team and competed against smaller clubs to earn the team provincial banner. However, the Piranhas were classified as a large team this year.

This put the club against big fish like the Calgary and Edmonton teams. According to Swedlo, winning was never the team’s focus. While it would have been a nice bonus, the Piranhas were focused on growing.

The Piranhas grew this season after acquiring impressive hardware and breaking multiple club records.

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