Lakers are provincial champs

The Pen High Lakers won their first provincial championship in Kamloops last weekend.

THE PEN HIGH LAKERS swim team ended a 15-year run of provinicial swimming championships by Vancover’s St. George’s School in Kamloops. It’s the first-ever provincial championship win for the Lakers.

Anna Spence recalls the quiet before massive screams erupted from the Pen High Lakers swim team.

The team went crazy after the announcement at the B.C. High School swimming provincial championships in Kamloops that the Lakers had won. It’s their first ever title.

“I wish I had a video,” said Spence. “It was quiet then got louder than it had been the entire meet. It was a great experience to be part of.”

The Lakers ended St. George’s School’s 15-year reign.

READ MORE: Lakers swim team defend Okanagan Valley title

Spence was on the medley relay team that took second and the mixed medley that won and set a record as the Lakers girls side won the overall. The girls side topped West Point Grey Academy, 336 to 331. St. George’s topped Pen High on the boys side 660 to 456 and overall the Lakers topped  St. George’s 792 to 660. Ninety-three schools competed.

“It’s a pretty big deal. I’m proud of them,” said Lakers swim coach Tina Hoeben. “It was a goal for a couple of years. That we finally executed. It feels good.”

Hoeben said competition was pretty steep. Knowing it would be tough and close, Hoeben knew how to utilize her deep team.

“It takes a lot to win that meet,” said Hoeben. “You need depth.

The boys medley relay won and set a record while doing it with Tyler Wall, Jaren LeFranc, Sam Lasinki, and Riley Wall. Riley Wall took first in  the 50-metre freestyle, Acacia Benn was second in the 100-m back stroke. The girls 400-m freestyle relay with Mackenzie Wallich,  Alia Waters, Kristen Vandeweghe and Benn were second. The boys 400-m freestyle relay with Sam Matthew, Elijah Kliever, Wynn Nordlund and Evan Peters took third. Jaren LeFranc broke his own record in the 100-m breast stroke and is third in Canada behind a 23- and 26-year-old. He finished in one minute, one second. He broke his own record by three seconds.

“It was pretty good,” said LeFranc. “I didn’t expect to be that fast. Hopefully it will stand for a while.”

Riley Wall also set a record while winning the 100-m freestyle. He finished it in 51 seconds. Lasinski took third in the 100-m fly, Benn was second in the 200 individual medley, while LeFranc took first and Tyler Wall tied for second in the 200 IM.

The girls took third in the 200-m free relay, and the boys (Tyler and Riley Wall, Xelian Louw and Matthew) won the 200-m free relay and set a record by more than three seconds.

“Everyone really came together,” said LeFranc of the win. “It was amazing how it came together.”

Travis Kascak, a rookie on the Lakers, said it was special this year.

“Being part of the team is nice,” said Kascak, who had a personal best swim in the 50-m breast stroke. “Coming back with banners was good for the team. Everyone was ecstatic.”

The theme for the Lakers was “Do it for Dave,” referring to Dave Nackoney, their school coach along with Alan Stel. The swimmers signed a sign, which was given to him.

“I have been involved with teams for 30 years and I have not seen a team more supportive and hardworking than this bunch,” he said.

READ MORE: Swimmers close the gap

The Lakers swim team is as follows: Benn, Waters, Spence, Avery Barnett, Belize Souch-Tremblay, Ben Say, Elijah Kliever, Emmy Caruso, Evan Peters, Ian Peters, Haley Berrisford, Lefranc, Joy Wang, Vandeweghe, Logan Rabe, Mackenzie Wallich, Myah Nackoney, Riley Wall, Tyler Wall, Sam Matthew, Lasinski, Kascak, Nordlund and Louw.