Duncan Stingrays set phenomenal pace at Island short course championships

​​​​​​​Feb. 28, 2022 5:00 p.m.

Hosting the highest level of swimming competition for the region, the Duncan Stingrays had an exceptionally strong showing at the Vancouver Island Region Short Course Championships over the final weekend of January.

Overall, the team achieved personal bests at an 86.4 per cent clip.

“For context, our typical Team PB average hovers around 60 per cent,” head coach Leanne Sirup explained. “In other words, our swimmers did phenomenal! They used the familiarity of the facility to their best benefit and showed the rest of the region that when they race the Stingrays they can expect a great competitor beside them.

Eight Stingrays swimmers achieved 100 per cent personal best times at the meet: Sophia Atashband, Teagan Dunaway, Gabe Gerbrandt, Sam Gerbrandt, Evan Hales, Olivia Matthews, Matthew Ruiter and Kate Schultz.

Angus Preston, Ayla Graham and Nina Lempinen all posted personal bests in all but one of their races, while Ryca Stiwich had four PBs and Yelaina Franco had three.

Nearly 300 swimmers from across Vancouver Island attended the meet, the first regional championships in two years. Still adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, the event was divided into two age groups — 12 and under, 13 and over — with timed finals, instead of having preliminaries and finals for every event.

Stingrays swimmers climbed the rankings in two out of every three races they entered over the course of the weekend. Five swimmers — both Gerbrandts, Ruiter and Schultz, as well as Malcolm Blackburn — moved up in the rankings in all of their races, and passed their competitors at every opportunity available.

Medallists at the meet included Wyland Dumont (bronze in the 1500m freestyle), Anna Fairweather (bronze in the 200m freestyle), Sam Gerbrandt (bronze in the 100m butterfly), Teddy James (gold in the 100m butterfly), Kailie MacGregor (bronze in the 1500m freestyle), Lauchlin MacGregor (bronze in the 400m freestyle and 400m IM), and Waylin MacGregor (bronze in the 50m backstroke and 100m breaststroke).

A total of 10 swimmers set provincial or divisional qualifying times in their respective age groups.

Three posted Swim BC Provincial QTs: Anna Fairweather, 14, in the 100m and 200m backstroke; Teddy James, 11, in the 50m backstroke; and Lauchlin MacGregor, 11, in the 88m freestyle.

And seven posted Fraser Valley & Vancouver Island Divisional QTs: Wyland Dumont, 12, in the 100m and 200m freestyle; Gabe Gerbrandt, 13, in the 50m backstroke and 200m butterfly; Sam Gerbrandt, 12, in the 100m and 200m breaststroke; Evan Hales, 14, in the 400m freestyle and 200m backstroke; Kailie MacGregor, 13, in the 100m and 1500m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 100m and 200m breaststroke, and 400m IM; Kate Schultz, 14, in the 100m breaststroke; and Ryca Stiwich, 14, in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m and 200m breaststroke, and 200m IM.

Volunteer meet managers Trisha O’Halloran and Pierre Graham and officials coordinator Lisa Helmer guided the event, while Peninsula Co-op, Duncan Hyundai, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Municipality of North Cowichan and Government of B.C. were among the many sponsors.

“It takes the entire community to run an event of this calibre and magnitude and we’re so pleased that the Cowichan Valley has supported us in this endeavour,” Sirup said.

> pictured left: Top to Bottom:

  • Teddy James of the Duncan Stingrays competes in (and wins!) the 12 & Under boys 100m Butterfly at the 2022 Vancouver Island Regional Short Course Championships on Jan 29
  • Olivia Matthews of the Duncan Stingrays competes in the 12 & Under girls 200m Breaststroke at the 2022 Vancouver Island Regional Short Course Championships on Jan 29
  • Sam Gerbrandt of the Duncan Stingrays competes in the 12 & Under boys 100m Butterfly at the 2022 Vancouver Island Regional Short Course Championships on Jan 29
  • Teagan Dunaway of the Duncan Stingrays competes in the 10 & Under girls 50m Breaststroke at the 2022 Vancouver Island Regional Short Course Championships on Jan 29
  • Waylin MacGregor of the Duncan Stingrays competes in the 10 & Under boys 50m Breaststroke at the 2022 Vancouver Island Regional Short Course Championships on Jan 29

Duncan Stingrays swimmer Teddy James competes in the 50m butterfly during the club’s Orange & Black meet at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre on Dec. 1. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

​​​​​​​Young Duncan Stingrays dive into competition

First meet of the year for club’s youngest swimmers


Dec. 9, 2021 3:00 p.m.

The youngest members of the Duncan Stingrays swim team took to the pool on Dec. 1 for their first racing opportunity of the season: the club’s first Orange & Black meet of 2021-22.

It was the first competition ever for many of the 57 Stingrays who raced. Another 35 older members of the club served as officials for the meet and as assistant coaches to the junior staff.

“It was a great day of learning and racing and simply having a whole lot of fun,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup said.

The meet led to four new Vancouver Island championships qualifiers: Teagan Dunaway and Kayla Lemon in the 10 and under category, Alexander Nikitas in the 11/12 category, and Christopher Nikitas in the 13/14 category.

“The team is very excited about our future,” Sirup added. “We’ve got many young ones who started the sport of swimming just a short three months ago and are making huge progress in their skills and speed. Credits to the swimmers for doing their best on a daily basis and being brave enough to try new skills. This courage and determination is what we strive for on a daily basis and we are very proud of our young ones.”

Sirup also gave kudos to FUNdamentals coaches Koen Hales, Kiana Navas-Perla and Mary Paridaen van Veen, who she said are also very driven and dedicated in their work with the youngest swimmers.

The Stingrays will be in action again this weekend as they host their annual Winter Break Invitational at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

Sam Gerbrandt, Teddy James, Nina Lampinen, Clara Lake, Waylin MacGregor and Matthew Ruiter were among the 11 swimmers who represented the Duncan Stingrays at the Comox Valley Sharks’ Fall Meet Series last weekend. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Personal bests fall for Duncan Stingrays at Comox meet

Seven swimmers set 100 per cent PBs


Nov. 27, 2021 3:00 p.m

Duncan Stingrays swimmers were smashing their own personal records here, there and everywhere at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre last weekend.

The Stingrays took 11 swimmers to the Comox Valley Sharks’ Fall Meet Series, each racing in four events, and seven of them achieved 100 per cent personal bests.

“The primary goal for all of our swimmers is always to improve our personal bests,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup said. “Our focus in doing so has been to work on breaking down the strokes and all the associated skills; fulfilling our process goals. If we can better each piece in working towards the primary goal then the time will take care of itself.”

Sophia Atashband had 100 per cent personal bests with one eighth place, and competed in two new races: the 50m breaststroke and 200m freestyle.

Sam Gerbrandt had 100 per cent personal bests, with one third place and one sixth.

Nina Lempinen had 100 per cent personal bests and three sixth places, and set her first ever Vancouver Island Regional qualifying time in the 9/10 50m freestyle.

Lauchlin MacGregor had 100 per cent personal bests, with one second place and two thirds, as well as seeing the greatest drop in time of anyone on the team: 45.44 seconds in the 200m breaststroke.

Waylin MacGregor had 100 per cent personal bests, with three second places and one fourth.

Angus Preston had 100 per cent personal bests, with one fourth place and two fifths.

Matthew Ruiter had 100 per cent personal bests, with two second places and one fourth.

Teddy James set three new personal bests, with one first place, two thirds and a fifth.

Clara Lake set three new personal bests with one eight place.

Kate Schultz set three new personal bests with two third places, one fifth and one sixth.

Emma deBree set three new personal bests with one fourth place and two sixths, and competed in one new race: the 50m butterfly.

Participants in the Stingrays Learn to Swim program will take part in their first meet of the season, the Orange and Black I Time Trial on Dec. 1. On Dec. 11 and 12, the club will host the annual Winter Break Invitational.

Members of the Duncan Stingrays senior group, from left: Anna Fairweather, Kate Schultz, Evan Hales, Kailie MacGregor and Malcolm Blackburn. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Bennett Cup a test of training for Duncan Stingrays

Eight swimmers compete among the best from Island and Mainland


Nov. 18, 2021 3:00 p.m

    Eight members of the Duncan Stingrays took to the pool against competition from across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland at the Bennett Cup hosted by the Island Swimming Club at Saanich Commonwealth Place last weekend.

    The Bennett Cup was the first meet in 20 months with both preliminaries and finals, and drew more than 250 swimmers.

    While the Stingrays were focused on testing their own training, there was a lot to be excited about in terms of results as well, according to head coach Leanne Sirup.

    “We have been working very hard on creating the habits that make us a faster swimmer and this competition was the testing ground that illustrated exactly what we have been doing in training — illustration of the good and the not so good,” she said. “The swimmers all took mental notes on where their next focus for training will be but certainly should be proud on how well they’d performed amongst the stiff competition.

    “This competition was a great experience for all of our swimmers to be back and racing older and faster swimmers; it’s what drives our improvement. We were fortunate to race alongside UVic’s varsity team of over 50 swimmers and learning from their example.”

    Malcolm Blackburn set six personal bests over his seven races, and made five 13/14 male finals, placing third in the 50m butterfly and sixth in the 200m breaststroke.

    Wyland Dumont set personal bests in all six of his races and placed third in the 11/12 male 400m freestyle and seventh in the 50m butterfly.

    Anna Fairweather had personal bests in three of her seven races, reaching three 13/14 female finals and placing seventh in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and 400m free.

    Gabe Gerbrandt set personal bests in four of six races, reaching finals in the 13/14 male 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley.

    Evan Hales had personal bests in all seven of his 13/14 male races, and had the best time drop with a cumulative improvement of one minute and 41.76 seconds for an average improvement of more than 14 seconds per race.

    Kailie MacGregor also had personal bests in seven of seven races, making six 13/14 female finals and placing third in the 50m breaststroke and fourth in the 200m backstroke. MacGregor’s 200m backstroke performance has her less than three per cent away from qualifying for the Western Canadian Championships.

    Brody McCartney was yet another with seven personal bests in seven races, making seven 13/14 male finals and placing fourth in the 50m and 200m breaststroke and 200m individual medley.

    Matthew Ruiter set personal bests in two of three races and made two 13/14 male finals, finishing eighth in the 50m butterfly and 50m breaststroke.

    Another three Stingrays — Teddy James, Lauchlin MacGregor and Angus Preston — were set to attend as well, but all 11 and under swimmers were removed from the competition just prior to the first day due to the facility’s updated requirements.

    The Duncan Stingrays took 20 swimmers to the Nanaimo Riptides Invitational last month. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

    Personal bests fall for Duncan Stingrays at Comox meet

    Brody McCartney eclipses 29-year-old club record


    Nov. 11, 2021 2:00 p.m

    The Duncan Stingrays returned to racing for the first time in more than a year and a half when they got in the pool for the Nanaimo Riptides Invitational at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre on Oct. 23 and 24.

    The Duncan Swim Team hadn’t been in action against other clubs since the start of the COVID shutdown 19 months earlier.

    “It was our first racing opportunity, racing against others in person, since our hosting of the DST Spring Break Invitational and Swim BC Provincial Championships way back in March 2020,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup commented.

    The Stingrays took 20 swimmers to the meet, with another unable to race due to illness. A total of 320 swimmers from all over the Island took part.

    Among the standouts was Brody McCartney, 12, who put up six Swim BC Provincial Championship qualifying times and set a new DST record in the 11/12 male 50m freestyle, his time of 28.70 seconds beating the old record of 28.79 held by Kelsey McDaniel since 1992.

    “I felt I was pretty successful,” McCartney said. “I was very happy making those times.”

    McCartney has been swimming with the Stingrays for about four years, but this is his first club record.

    “I was trying for it, so I was really happy I made it,” he said.

    Twelve more Stingrays recorded Vancouver Island Regional Championships qualifying times: Malcolm Blackburn with eight QTs; Wyland Dumont and Gabe Gebrandt with seven apiece; Ayla Graham, Teddy James, Lauchlin MacGregor and Angus Preston with six each; Kallie MacGregor with five; Evan Hales and Matthew Ruiter with four; Waylin MacGregor with three; and Sam Gebrandt with two. James also narrowly missed a Swim BC divisional QT by 0.06 seconds.

    Another seven Duncan swimmers set personal bests in all of their races: Emma deBree, in her first Swim BC competition, Yelain Frano, Clara Lake, Nina Lempinen, Olivia Matthews, Ava Sandell and Kate Schultz, who entered two new events in Nanaimo.

    The Stingrays will head to the Island Swimming Club’s Bennett Cup at Saanich Commonwealth Place this weekend, followed by the Comox Valley Sharks Fall Invitational.

    ​​​​​​​News & Testimonials

    "Hi Leanne
    I just want to say a huge thank you to yourself and Brent. Not forgetting the whole Stingrays team. As you know (Parent) had to rush back to the (home) on the first day of VIR. Without you guys (Swimmers) wouldn’t have made through this weekend and certainly wouldn’t have achieved what she did. Both (Swimmer 1) and (Swimmer 2) love being part of the Stingray family and that is certainly what it is, a family.
    Both (Parent) and I are very proud that they are both part of that.
    Thank you again for looking after (Swimmer)."


    A.  (Parent)
    January 27, 2019


    "Hello, amazing Stingrays Coaching Team!
    On behalf of the (omit) family, I wanted to extend a very hearty thank you for all you have done for my two (Swimmers), culminating in their recognition last night at the Awards Ceremony. They were both quite chuffed, and (Swimmer 1) was very sorry to have missed it.
    As an (omit) professional who works with (like profession), I wanted to give you all some kudos. It's one thing to be around children and teach them technical skills, etc., but it's another thing to take the time to get to know each individual under your care. You all demonstrated your passion for our sport, and for our children last night -- your introductions to each awards recipient really showed how much you take the time to get to know and celebrate each swimmer. You don't just watch these swimmers...you take the time to truly "see" them for who they are, and it shows!
    We are so fortunate to have you in our circle of trusted adults who are impacting our (Swimmers') life experience."


    L. (Parent)
    October 3, 2019


    ​​​​​​​Duncan Swim Team makes history at junior nationals

    Aug 20, 2019 5:00pm

    In the history of the Duncan Swim Team, fewer than 30 swimmers have competed at the national junior level, and fewer than 10 of those have reached a final.

    Last month, the Stingrays sent two swimmers — 15-year-old McKinley Thomas-Perry and 14-year-old Bridget Burton — to the Canadian Junior Championships in Calgary, and both reached finals in two events.

    “To say we’re proud of our swimmers would be an understatement,” Stingrays head coach Leanne Sirup said.

    “Both of these young women did extremely well in achieving personal bests across the board. This was an extraordinary feat as they’re both racing on the national stage for the very first time and also performing at altitude.”

    To put that in context, out of 62 entries in the 15-17 200m backstroke, only four achieved personal bests in preliminaries, and Thomas-Perry was one of them. In the 13-14 50m freestyle, only six out of 61 swimmers had personal bests, and Burton was one of them

    “This was the mood of the entire competition where less than 10 per cent of the competitors raced to their lifetime best in the morning,” Sirup related. “Bridget and McKinley did as they’ve always done in trusting their own abilities and bucking the trend.”

    Two more Stingrays qualified for the Canadian Juniors, were unable to attend: Mary Paridaen Van Veen, 14, broke a finger playing rugby, and Oliver Castle, 18, was preparing to head to Thompson Rivers University in the fall.

    The Canadian Junior Championships were attended by 127 teams from across Canada, competing in 13-14 and 15-17 age groups for female swimmers, and 14-15 and 16-18 age groups for males. Burton turned 14 just before the meet, while Thomas-Perry was at the bottom of the upper age group. Both reached two finals, Burton placing sixth in both the 13-14 100m free and 50m free, and Thomas-Perry finishing 12th in 15-17 100m backstroke and 16th in the 15-17 200m individual medley.

    “Qualifying for two A finals was more than I could have hoped for,” said Burton, who admitted she felt nervous prior to the meet. “I finally realized that I truly belonged there.”

    Thomas-Perry called the 100m backstroke her personal highlight of the championships. She was seeded 25th prior to the meet, but climbed 13 spots by the end, along with breaking the club record twice.

    “I was very very happy with all of performances, even if they didn’t go as planned,” she said. “As far as my overall performance goes, I am very pleased with it as well, I am also very delighted with how I carried myself and represented my team. My 200m backstroke was my first race of the meet and getting that personal best I think it really set me up for a great rest of the meet.”

    Both swimmers admitted to being nervous before the competition, but they found ways to deal with it.

    I remember jumping into the water for my 100m backstroke final and being very nervous but I just said to myself, ‘All the work that you have put into this, it’s paying off,’” Thomas-Perry recalled. “You have earned your spot here and you deserve to be here just as much as everyone else,’ and that really helped to calm my nerves.”

    The highlight of the meet for Burton was competing in her first-ever swim-off at junior nationals in the 100m butterfly.

    “The girl I was swimming against in the swim-off was from a big team and had lots of teammates,” Burton noted. “Although Duncan is a smaller team, I knew my team was there cheering for me.”

    Thomas-Perry treasured the experience of not only competing, but also representing the Stingrays on the national level.

    “It was such a new atmosphere to be in because everyone that was there, they were there to compete and to show off all of their hard work that they have put into swimming,” she said. “Although it was a new atmosphere I did think that it was a fun and cool one to be in and I really enjoyed being apart of it and getting to put myself out there.

    Thomas-Perry became the 10th Stingray ever to achieve the Canadian Senior Championships qualifying standard, but decided juniors was a better fit this year, so she’s aiming to qualify for both next year, as is Burton.


    Mom, dad and sister all members of the Cowichan Valley swimming community

    Jul. 22, 2018 2:30 p.m

    Mary Paridaen van Veen comes from a family with strong connections to the swimming community in the Cowichan Valley. And it is this family involvement that makes her first gold medal win at the Cowichan 2018 BC Games even sweeter.

    Mary’s father, David van Veen, is volunteering as the meet manager of the swimming competitions while her sister, Sophie, is volunteering alongside him at the pool.

    On Friday, Mary brought home a gold for Zone 6 at her home pool, the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, with teammates and coaches from her local swim club cheering her on.

    “I’m so proud of Mary,” says her mother, Margaret Paridaen. “She has been swimming since she was five years old and is calm and cool under pressure.”

    Mary’s first gold of the BC Summer Games came in the girls 14 and under 200m butterfly, her first of six races at the Games.

    All three members of the Duncan Stingrays swim team that competed at the Summer Games — including Mary Paridaen van Veen, Bridget Burton and McKinley Thomas-Perry won at least two medals.


    Stingrays in front of the pack at Hyack Festival Youth Cup

    Jun. 13, 2018 11:00 p.m

    With a larger contingent, who knows what the Duncan Stingrays might have accomplished at the Hyack Festival Youth Cup swimming competition in New Westminster on the Victoria Day long weekend?

    The Stingrays swimmers averaged 42 points per swimmer, five more than the winning host team averaged. Unfortunately for the Stingrays, they sent just five athletes to the meet, while the host club had more than 100 entries.

    “This was a mid-season high-level test with much yet to be done to prepare for championship July,” Stingrays assistant coach Brent Forsyth said.

    The goal for the Duncan swimmers, who train as much as 18 hours a week, was to compete at their best without letting up on the intensity of their training prior to the meet, and with more than 60 per cent personal bests, they showed that they could handle the pressure.

    “This group is becoming much more resilient,” Forsyth said.

    Forsyth was a member of the Island Swimming coaching staff when Ryan Cochrane trained with the club on his way to three Olympic and six Commonwealth Games medals, and the Stingrays’ regimen was inspired in part by Cochrane.

    “Ryan always forced us to plan practices with race tactics and objectives,” Forsyth said.

    Oliver Castle, 17, had 50 per cent personal bests at the Hyack Festival, his most notable results coming in the 400m individual medley and 400m freestyle. Castle reached finals in all seven of his events and collected 37 points for the team. Two weeks after the New Westminster meet, Castle competed among many top-level swimmers in the 2018 Mel Zajac Jr. International at UBC, where his opponents included 12-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte.

    Bridget Burton, 12, broke a 19-year-old club record in the 50m freestyle and collected 25 points, reaching five finals in seven events.

    Mary Paridaen van Veen, 13, was the Stingrays’ top scorer with 43 points, scoring in all eight of her events and placing second in the 100m butterfly and fourth in 200m butterfly.

    Ty Dahlstrom, 13, achieved a team-best 80 per cent personal bests, and despite competing in a new age group, placed and scored in the 100m backstroke.

    Sophie Paridaen van Veen, 16, reached finals and scored in six of her seven events, collecting 28 points, including fifth-place finishes in 50m and 100m freestyle.