Regional summer swimming competitions were held at Al Anderson pool in Langley City during the B.C. Day weekend. Head coach Nicholas Todd shared that he was pleased with the teams’s showing. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

PHOTOS & VIDEO: Langley Flippers send pod to Kamloops

Almost two dozen Langley swimmers are off to the B.C. Interior for the provincials in mid-August.

Having an eight-lane outdoor full-depth swimming pool with new starting blocks makes Langley a desirable place to host just about any swim meet.

Such was the case during the B.C. Day long weekend, when the regional swimming competition brought more than 400 swimmers to town.

When it comes to hosting competitive events in the Fraser Valley region, Abbotsford or Langley are typically asked to facilitate most, said Francis Cheung, vice-president of the B.C. Summer Swimming Association.

This time around, Agassiz was the host community, but with a shallow, six-lane pool they couldn’t accommodate an event of this size, Cheung explained, so they asked Langley for help. Every team, from Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Mission, Agassiz, and Maple Ridge then pitched in.

• Click here to see more photos from the regionals

Flippers showed well

Twenty-one Flippers qualified at this weekend’s regionals go on to the provincials in Kamloops from Aug. 18 to 20.

“Overall, we had 21 swimmers qualify for provincials – 11 individual entrants and nine who qualified on relays,” Todd announced.

Last year, the Langley Flippers had 15 qualify, and the previous year they had three.

“A good indication that we are improving as a team regionally,” said the swimmer-turned-coach.

Todd took time this weekend, poolside between heats, to explain that the team has ramped up its mental approach to competition this year, and consequently he said, they’re seeing dividends in and out of the pool.

There were about 60 members of the Flippers club, swimmers of all ages – but primarily kids – taking part in the regional competition.

That’s pretty significant, since when he joined as head coach four years ago there were only 27 Flippers. There were 45 at the end of his first season, and now the Langley swim club is recording one of the largest growths in the province with 96 members.

“Our goal has been to develop positive mindsets… what we’ve seen today is a lot of swimmers grasping onto that,” he said, noting many Flippers were reporting strong finishes and recording personal bests.

“While there were no records that were broken by the team, one notable achievement was that of Natalie Hu, who managed to qualify in the Division 5 Girls 100-metre backstroke with a best time of 1:21.27, taking off three seconds from her previous best time – which she hadn’t achieved since last season,” Todd highlighted.

“She was recently diagnosed with chlorine-induced asthma, and has had a tough season struggling to adjust to her condition,” he explained. “She grew frustrated and dejected at some points throughout the season as she wasn’t getting the results she expected of herself.”

Likewise, fellow swimmer Kenneth Xing achieved a “huge” milestone by qualifying in the Boys Division 6, 50-m freestyle with a best time of 29.20. Breaking 30 is an achievement that is widely celebrated and respected amongst the swimming community, and for him to do so in addition to securing a bronze medal is quite a commendable achievement indeed,” Todd said.

Another set of “remarkable achievements” according to the head coach came from the masters swimmers.

“These are swimmers who are aged 20 and older, primarily parents, and we had four masters qualify for provincials – Tammy Savard, Chris Jorgensen, Wendy Moss, and Corrine Searle. Interestingly enough, Chris Jorgensen and Corrine Searle are a husband and wife powerhouse team!”

The masters program has grown significantly in recent seasons. They currently have upwards of 15.

“I believe four years ago we had around eight, and those results certainly reflect a burgeoning program,” said Todd.

He said the Langley team was also excited to be competing at their own pool. While some were anxious to show off the new starting blocks, most were just happy to roll out the red carpet to all the visiting teams – many who camped out in the fields surrounding Al Anderson Pool, Todd said.

Practice for the entire team will still run up until Thursday, Aug. 17, although much of it – leading up to the provincials – will focus on the qualifiers.

Flippers who qualified for 2017 provincials

Grace Esplen

Corrine Searle

Kenneth Xing

Tammy Savard

Chris Jorgensen

Cameron Jorundson

Connor Frey

Natalie Hu

Max Niiranen

Wendy Moss

Taya McCartney

Michelle Zhao

Madison Laccasse Owens

Caryse McCartney

Neil Jorgensen

Carter Neva

Kasper Henderson

Austin Taylor

Rose Esplen

Dina Ehl

Will Karpan