September 26, 2017

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Swimmers earn wave of medals

Manitoba athletes a force in the pool

Manitoba continues to pour it on in the pool as a trio of accomplished swimmers found themselves back in a familiar spot Thursday night — standing on the Canada Summer Games podium.

Oksana Chaput won the bronze medal in the women’s 100-metre butterfly final, adding to the gold (100-metre freestyle) and silver (50-metre butterfly) she took home earlier in the week. It’s quite the haul for a 13-year-old who is swimming against bigger, stronger competitors who are mostly one or two years older than her.

Quinlan Roberts captured the silver medal Thursday in the women’s Special Olympics 50-metre backstroke race. This comes after winning gold earlier this week in the 100-metre freestyle. In her most recent triumph, Roberts just edged out teammate Samantha Currie who ended up with a bronze. Like Chaput, Currie also has three medals this week after winning gold in 50-metre breaststroke and bronze in the 100-metre backstroke.

Add it all up and the three athletes have racked up eight medals between them — three gold, two silver and three bronze — so far this week for their home province.

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Manitoba continues to pour it on in the pool as a trio of accomplished swimmers found themselves back in a familiar spot Thursday night — standing on the Canada Summer Games podium.

Oksana Chaput won the bronze medal in the women’s 100-metre butterfly final, adding to the gold (100-metre freestyle) and silver (50-metre butterfly) she took home earlier in the week. It’s quite the haul for a 13-year-old who is swimming against bigger, stronger competitors who are mostly one or two years older than her.

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Special Olympic medallists Quinlan Roberts (left) and Samantha Currie show off their 50-metre backstroke medals at Pan Am Pool on Thursday.</p></p>

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

Special Olympic medallists Quinlan Roberts (left) and Samantha Currie show off their 50-metre backstroke medals at Pan Am Pool on Thursday.

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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Thirteen-year-old Oksana Chaput has been winning medals against older swimmers this week, adding a bronze medal Thursday to the silver and gold she won earlier in the week.</p></p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Thirteen-year-old Oksana Chaput has been winning medals against older swimmers this week, adding a bronze medal Thursday to the silver and gold she won earlier in the week.

Quinlan Roberts captured the silver medal Thursday in the women’s Special Olympics 50-metre backstroke race. This comes after winning gold earlier this week in the 100-metre freestyle. In her most recent triumph, Roberts just edged out teammate Samantha Currie who ended up with a bronze. Like Chaput, Currie also has three medals this week after winning gold in 50-metre breaststroke and bronze in the 100-metre backstroke.

Add it all up and the three athletes have racked up eight medals between them — three gold, two silver and three bronze — so far this week for their home province.

"As our coach says, we’re the best of friends and the worst of enemies in the pool," Roberts, 17, said Thursday with a laugh. The La Salle resident was joking about the friendly rivalry she has with Currie, who just beat her for the backstroke bronze on Wednesday.

Currie, 25, is competing in her third Canada Summer Games and said this one has been especially memorable to win three medals with so many hometown family and friends cheering her on. She’s also recovering from a sprained ankle.

"I’m pretty stoked about it," she said.

Currie said having Roberts also do well is only adding to the enjoyment. The pair will have one last chance to medal in their final race tonight at the Pan Am Pool.

Chaput also has a couple races left. She again competed in three events on Thursday and seemed to show no ill-effects from a knee injury suffered while warming up for her last race on Wednesday. Chaput finished sixth in the 200-metre women’s freestyle race, and then helped teammates Madysen Barnes, Logan Wiebe and Megan James finish fifth in the 4x50-metre medley, just two seconds off the bronze time.

Manitobans were involved in seven races with medal potential Thursday.

Liam Rohatynsky finished sixth in the men’s 100-metre backstroke final, and then joined teammates Braeden Glor, Andrew Witwicki and Daniel Boguski for an impressive fourth-place finish in the men’s 4x50-metre medley.

Josh Pereira ended up fifth Thursday in the para men’s 50-metre backstroke final.

Team Manitoba head coach Craig McCormick predicted at the start of the week his young, feisty squad could make a splash of its own.

‘There’s medals out there," he said.

While they may not be dominating the way powerhouses Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and B.C. are in the pool, they are certainly showing plenty of potential as they try to develop the next generation of swimming stars.

Chaput is leading the way, having already been identified by Swimming Canada as a rising young prospect given her success so far. Her coach, Szilvie Carriere, declined an interview request for Chaput on Thursday night following her races, saying she wants to remain focused on her remaining events and will likely speak once they are completed.

The Free Press spoke with Chaput following her first medal on Tuesday, where she said the hometown Games were a "huge chance for me" to show how far she’s come.

One of the big things for the entire team is that they are treating the hometown Games like a major foreign meet. They are all staying in the athletes’ village, rather than their own residences, in order to experience the full flavour of what big-time competitions are all about.

They also held a staging camp in Grand Forks, N.D., last week as part of a training and bonding mission.

With eight medals so far and a number of other close calls, it certainly appears to have paid off.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Mike McIntyre.

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