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