Youth & SWAD Championships

Fratesi and Johns Top Performers


Nick J. Thierry

Three individual, and one relay record were bettered at this year's Youth Championships held in Victoria just two months after Spring Nationals in the same pool. 300 swimmers are competing in the Youth Championships and 40 swimmers in the Nationals for swimmers with a disabilty (SWAD).

Jennifer Fratesi, 15, (SSMAC) was the top performer of this year's Youth Championships. With four golds and a Youth record she was most pleased with her 100 backstroke where she bettered Kelly Stefanyshyn's old record of 1:05.06 from 1997 with her 1:04.77 prelim swim, winning the final with a 1:04.96.

Fratesi competed in March at Spring Nationals, and was fifth with 1:05.35. "I was expecting a good time," Jennifer said, "but not break the meet record." Subsequently she won the 200 back in 2:19.28, the 100 butterfly in 1:03.39 and the 200 IM with 2:23.16. The other standout in the girls events was Deanna Stefanyshyn, 14, (PDSA) sweeping the distance freestyles with a 2:07.13 for the 200 free, 4:27.23 in the 400 free and 9:09.48 in the 800 free. Her fourth gold came on PDSAs record setting 4x100 free relay.

These top swimmers duelled in the 200 IM, with Fratesi first and Stefanyshyn second in 2:26.32 for her fifth medal.

Courtney Chuy, 14 (HYACK) won both breaststrokes with 1:14.77 for the 100 and 2:38.87 in the 200, slower than her winning times from last year. Chuy, a Commonwealth medallist last September, is still returning to form after a leg injury in March. She added a third gold on HYACKs 4x50 medley relay.

One of the top performers in the boys events was Brian Johns,16 (RACER), winning the 50 free in 24.43, the 200 fly with 2:05.81 and the 200 IM in a Youth record of 2:08.11, bettering the old mark of 2:08.30 by Jamie Stevens from 1991. Johns, is a member of the Pan Am and Pan Pacific Team. At this meet he was concentrating on his off events.

"I want to get some experience in different events," said Johns, 16, who earned the best performance award of the meet for his 200 IM win on Saturday. At Spring Nationals he was third with a 2:04.61. "It's part of the training in what is an important year for me. I'm focusing on the freestyle events particularly the 200 free for the our relay event (the 4X200 freestyle relay) at the Pan Ams and Pan Pacs. "It's an event that we hope we can prove to the world that Canada is an emerging power in the men's freestyle events."

Most improved swimmer has to be Francois Castonguay, 16, (PPO) winner of the 100 back in 59.51 and the 200 back in 2:07.30 a Youth record, bettering the old record of 2:07.56 by Chris Sawbridge, from 1997.

"Never, never," the member of the Piscine Parc Olympique Club in Montreal said of his expectations of such a quick time."I changed clubs," Castonguay said of his improvement in the backstroke event. "I was with a small club (CNSJ) and we didn't go anywhere, so I decided to go to a big club and it's working."His previous best was 2:10.30 from a few weeks ago. Last year his bests were 1:01.84 and 2:14.12. He also competed in the 200 IM (6th) and the 400 IM (4th) and medalled in all four PPO relays, picking up two seconds and two third places.

Breaststroker Matthew Huang, 15 (PDSA) won the 100 in 1:04.97, an was third in the 200 with 2:23.35, an event in which he was third at Spring Nationals with 2:19.95.

After his 100 he said, "The focus was on winning," said Huang, 15, after winning his third youth title in two seasons. "I was going in second after getting a little distracted in the heats." After the 200, he insisted, "It didn't work out too well. I just didn't have a good feel for the water."

Another solid performer was Keith Beavers, 16, (STARS) winning the 200 breaststroke 2:22.77, and the 400 IM 4:34.01, with a third in the 200 IM, and a fifth in the 200 back.

In the SWAD events top performance went to Philippe Gagnon, 19, Chicoutimi, in his 100 free win. Two (SWAD) world records were established by Elisabeth Walker, 22, St. Catharines, and Adam Purdy, 19, London.

Youth Championships were first held in 1983 and many national team members first made their breakthrough at this competition.