Broer and Neusteter return to the provincial high school swim championships
a two day event starting Tuesday in Toronto
Monday, March 4, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
AYLMER, ON. - They are heading to OFSAA with one of their school's largest and strongest teams to ever swim a length, or four, in the pool.
The East Elgin Eagles will have 10 athletes, five individuals in nine events, plus two relay teams, at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) provincial high school swimming championships, at the Pan Am Sports Centre, in Toronto, March 5-6th.
At the Western Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association (WOSSAA) championships, February 20th, in London, the Eagles placed fourth overall in the team standings. That was a spot higher than at the Thames Valley Regional Athletics (TVRA) meet, a week earlier.
Seth Walker leads the Eagles' flight to OFSAA, qualifying in the boy's 15 years and over 50-metre fly, 100-metre I.M. and 50 free. Walker will only compete in two of the races, per OFSAA rules for individual competitors. Walker won both the 50 fly and 100 I.M. at both the WOSSAA and TVRA meets.
Haley Broer and Lauren Kremers, each have two events, while Bri Cunningham and Melena Siannas are both in the 15 years and over girls' 100-metre backstroke and Haileigh Neusteter, the over 15 girls' 50 fly.
Kremers swims the under-14 girls' 50-metre back and 100-metre I.M. while Broer has the open girls' 200-metre I.M. and 100-metre breaststroke.
At WOSSAA, Kremers tied Parkide C.I. Briar McCaw for first place in the 50 back, both setting a new meet time of 34.81 seconds.
"It was really good. I felt it was a really strong race," said Kremers, who also set a meet record (35.1 sec.) at TVRA in the race. "She's (McCaw) my friend, so it felt nice to tie with her."
Kremers is also on the U14 girls' 200-metre medley relay team, with Jillian Krahn, Sovann Green and Leah Collard.
Cunningham, Siannas, Neusteter and Sarah Smith, will join forces for the girls' over 15 years 200-metre medley relay race, following a silver medal at WOSSAA.
Eight Eagles make OFSAA debut
Broer and Neusteter return to OFSAA for a second time, while it's first appearances for the rest of the team.
A year ago in Grade nine, Broer placed 17th in the 100-metre back.
"I took time off my swim (setting a personal best) and I was really happy about that. It was really hard to break 1:10. That was really nice," said Boer, who has goals this year for personal best times and placing higher in the 100 back.
Neusteter was only in Grade nine her first time at OFSAA, three years ago with London CCH, competing in the 50 fly and on the 15 years and over (senior) girls' medley relay team.
"We had so much fun together. Our relay team did so well (10th). My fly was a little bit iffy, but it was still a really great experience," said
Neusteter, who looks forward to her return with new teammates. "It feels so good. I'm so excited. We have such a good team and we are really good friends. We were really proud on how well we did at TVRA. We got first. Our (OFSAA) goal is to swim fast and have a good time."
Qualifying for OFSAA was somewhat of a surprise for the senior Lady Eagles.
"We weren't expecting to get to OFSAA," said Cunningham. "We definitely had high hopes and at every practice we'd put in the effort to make sure we that our timing was good and everybody had their take-overs. When we made the OFSAA time, we were all jumping behind the blocks, 'oh my gosh, we made OFSAA!'. We were all proud of our selves because we knew we put the time and effort in to make it that way."
Team dynamics and chemistry, knowing each other's stroke rate, tendencies and perfecting their timing in the water during take-overs, has led these Eagles to be in the pool with the province's best.
"Everything just comes with a lot of practice. You have to memorize this person's stroke and make sure that they touch the wall," explains Cunningham. "It's also having a really good bond with your teammates."
Early in the season, the Eagles were disqualified at an invitational meet.
"So our goal at TVRA was just to not get disqualified and make sure our take-overs were perfect," said Cunningham.
The Eagles moved around who would swim what leg, until they had what Cunningham describes as "what's going to create the best overall effect", resulting in the successful order of Siannas, swimming the backstroke, Smith the breaststroke, Neustater the fly and finishing with Cunningham, with the free.
Having already qualified for OFSAA for the relay, lessened the pressure for Cunningham in her 100-metre back, but she swam it like it was her last race.
"I knew I had to really push myself for the time," said Cunningham. "It doesn't matter if I couldn't feel my legs, doesn't matter if I can't breath, I'm making it this time. As soon as I touched the wall I knew I did it."
Her OFSAA goal is less ambitious.
"I have a goal not to be last," Cunningham said with a laugh.
Cunningham, a lifeguard when the Grade 12 student is not competing, has ties to the previous Eagles' relay team to have qualified for OFSAA, the open boys' 400-metre medley team, with Jeremy Cunningham, Reid Waldick, Ian Mantel and Alex Warren.
A year ago, Broer, along with Brennan Piche-LeClair, represented the Eagles at OFSAA. Piche-LeClair won a silver medal in the para men's 50-metre back and placed sixth, in the 50-metre free,