Thunderbolts Dominate NWO Championships

High Point Winners: Back row Sawyer Puumala, Kaitlyn Luu, Matthew Foulds, Sam Chisholm, Lindsay Puhalski Front row Marco Martino, Taylor Brown.
High Point Winners: Back row Sawyer Puumala, Kaitlyn Luu, Matthew Foulds, Sam Chisholm, Lindsay Puhalski Front row Marco Martino, Taylor Brown.

THUNDER BAY – This past weekend swimmers from across Northwestern Ontario competed at the 2020 NWO Long Course Swimming Championships, sponsored by Tbaytel.  The swim meet took place at the Canada Games Complex and included an extra swim session where athletes competed in the long-distance 800 m and 1500 m freestyle events.

The ThunderBolts swim club dominated all 4 sessions in the pool amassing an amazing 4170 points to take the overall championships.

“Seeing the whole club, from the youngest ones to the top athletes moving forward in the same direction is a source of great pride for me,” stated a very satisfied Head Coach Tommaso Panizza.  “It means the whole coaching staff is doing a great job and most importantly, it means our swimmers are growing and they are nurturing the love for this sport,” he added.

Ten-year-old Jillian Thompson won multiple medals over the weekend. “I love swimming for the ThunderBolts with all my friends,” said Thompson. “I love the feeling of the water when I am swimming.  I was so happy about my 200 m and 800 m freestyle swims.

Scoring big for the ThunderBolts were the age group high point winners including  Taylor Brown(8 and under), Marco Martino(8 and under), Sawyer Puumala(9 and 10 yr olds), Matthew Foulds(11 and 12 yr olds), Kaitlyn Luu(11 and 12 yr olds), Sam Chisholm(13 and 14 yr olds) and Lindsay Puhalski(15 yr olds and over).  Individual high point awards are given to those athletes who score the most points in their age group.

“I had a great swim meet, especially the 200 m freestyle,” said an excited seven-year-old Marco Martino. “I swam hard, I love swimming, I love my swim friends, all the kids are so nice and we all try to swim really fast.”

“I was super proud of my 200 m Individual Medley race that I swam for the first time,” said eight-year-old high point winner Taylor Brown. “ The ThunderBolts are the best.  I’ve made really great friends and I like how the older athletes have coached me,” added Brown.

Two swimmers had perfect weekends; Kaitlyn Luu and Matthew Foulds won all 9 of their individual events. 

 “I have been working really hard in practice.  I am happy with how I did and I am especially happy with my national rankings,” said a very happy Matthew Foulds.  “I felt like I had a really good 200 m backstroke and 400 m freestyle.  I want to thank my coaches and teammates for all their encouragement. ”

Gold medal winners included Rudy Balabuck, Nikolas Black, Max Chisholm, Jed Demillo, Fenn Dobson, Tye Dobson, Evander Dunn, Leo Fay, Luke Foulds, Daniel Giardetti, Molly Hunt, Ella Hupka, Abby Gignac, Isabel Harri, Hannah Johnsen, Dante Martino, Emily Murphy, Tori Niittynen-Dreifelds, Jamie Puhalski, Eduardo Sandoval, Kenzie Thompson, Reid Thompson, Ethan Van Weeghel.

“I am very encouraged by the performances of the ThunderBolt swimmers,” said Senior Coach Andy Ritchie.  “There were many excellent races and many best times.  There were also a number of club records broken.  Our swimmers are developing confidence and setting ambitious goals for the future,” added Ritchie.