THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – This past weekend the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts hosted the annual 2019 First General Grand Prix at the Canada Games Complex. Over 300 swimmers from across Ontario and United States participated in the swim meet. Athletes from 17 clubs travelled from as far away as Hearst, Kapuskasing, Kenora and from as far south as Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Thunderbolts finished the competition placing first overall. The Thunderbolts accumulated over 8000 points on their way to the overall title followed by the Northwest Narwhal’s and Kapswim Kapuskasing . The Thunderbolts won a whopping 155 individual medals over the weekend.
“This was my 1 stFirst General Grand Prix as the head coach of the ThunderBolts. I loved having the regional and foreign American coaches here in Thunder Bay,” stated head coach Tommaso Panizza. “Our swimmers swam extraordinarily well this weekend,”added Panizza. “We now have to attract more clubs and swimmers to the Grand Prix and make Thunder Bay and the Grand Prix the destination for swimmers for the month of May.”
Leading the pack was Thunderbolt Luke Foulds who swam to 9 gold medals, the 11-12 year old high point trophy and the FINA trophy for best swim of the meet for 12 and under boys. Foulds also swam the 1500 m Freestyle event exhibition, swimming a monster 17:55.66 time setting a club record and ranking him 2 nd overall in the country for his age group.
“I was super happy about my best time in the 1500m freestyle,” said Luke Foulds. “I know I would not have been able to swim that well without my friends, family and coach Tommaso cheering me on. I was also happy with my 400 m Individual Medley beating my best time by 26 seconds and winning the FINA trophy for my 200 m Backstroke,” said Foulds.
Two other Thunderbolt records fell on the weekend. Molly Hunt age 10, broke the 400m Individual Medley record for 10 and under girls and Hannah Johnsen broke the 15 and over girls 100 m Backstroke record.
“When I was told I was swimming the 400 m Individual Medley, I was nervous about the race. My goal was to break the record, I believed this was my time,” said 10 year old Molly Hunt. “When I finished the race and was told I had broken the record I felt really great and I was really proud of myself. I am hoping to work harder and break more records in the future,” added Hunt.
Other high point trophy winners were Rudy Balabuck, Kaitlyn Luu, and Cameron Johnsen.
Some other outstanding swims were delivered by the Thunderbolts that won the FINA best swim trophies. These included Hannah Johnsen in the 100m Backstroke and Cameron Johnsen in the 100m freestyle.
“The meet was a great send-off for our senior swimmers. For some of them, this was their last meet of the season, and it was a great weekend to swim fast and have fun. It is an honour to graduate alongside this group,” said grade 12 Thunderbolt swimmer Cameron Johnsen. “I was glad to win the high point trophy and hoist the large team Championship banner for my final time as a Thunderbolt. I am excited to be a McMaster Marauder next year, but I will always be a Thunderbolt,” added Johnsen
Other gold medalists from the weekend included: Maryam Anvar, Rudy Balabuck, Nikolas Black, Sam Chisholm, Matthew Foulds, Isabel Harri, Molly Hunt, Fischer Jackson, Cameron Johnsen, Hannah Johnsen, Jamie Puhalski, Lindsay Puhalski, Sawyer Puumala, Alex Randall and Ethan Van Weeghal.
Other medal winners from the Thunderbolts included: Zoe Aylward, Brock Balabuck, Katelyn Battigelli, Nicholas Battigelli, Max Chisholm, Jett Dobson, Leo Fay, Scott Fay, Brooke Hulina, Zoe Hunt, Russell Jackson, Connor Murphy, Emily Murphy, Luca Talarico, MacKenzie Thompson and Reid Thompson.
“We had an outstanding weekend”, stated Coach Panizza. “Everyone performed well, from our most senior, elite athletes to our development group. I am proud of what our swimmers and coaches have accomplished this year,” he added.
Up next for the Thunderbolts is the Festival Swim Meet in Markham Ontario, Junior Provincials later in June and the Minneapolis Invitation Swim Meet in July.