Van Bellen raises bar with age-group swim record

Ontario swimmers Tera Van Beilen of Oakville and Jacqueline Keire of Toronto broke national age group swimming records at the Canada Games.

In the women’s 200-metre breaststroke, Van Beilen clocked two minutes and 24.00 seconds for the victory on Wednesday (Aug. 26). That eclipsed the previous national record in the 15-17 age group category of 2:25.94 set by Chelsey Salli of Langley, B.C., last March.

Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., was second in 2:25.69 and Tianna Rissling of Redcliff, Alta., third in 2:26.01.

In a very close women’s 400 freestyle, world championship team member Alexandra Gabor of Whitehorse provided the Yukon its first gold of the Games clocking 4:08.21. Keire, 14, was second in the race in 4:08.31, a Canadian record in the 13-14 age group. The previous best was 4:12.58 set by Brittany Reimer of Vernon, B.C., in 2002. Sinead Russell of Oakville was third in 4:08.47.

Other winners in women’s competition were Chantal Van Landeghem of Winnipeg in the 100 backstroke, Katerine Savard of Cap-Rouge, Que., in the 50 butterfly and Ontario in the 4X100 freestyle relay with Michelle Williams of Toronto, Keire, Rebecca Terejko of Brantford and Russell.

In men’s competition, Michael Cai of New Westminster, B.C., collected his third gold of the competition winning the 200 breaststroke in a personal best 2:10.21. Matthew Stephenson of Brantford, was second in 2:13.27 and Michael Luck of Beaconsfield, Que., third in 2:14.71.

“I was just trying to go out and near my personal best and see what happens,” said Cai, the 400 IM and 50 breaststroke winner on Tuesday. “I posted a strong breaststroke split in my 400 IM so I thought it would go pretty well. My stroke in this event hasn’t been this good in a long time and it felt pretty easy until the last 50 metres.’’

Other winners in men’s competition were David Sharpe of Halifax in the 100 backstroke, Hassaan Abdel-Khalik of Mississauga, in the 400 freestyle, Andre Kudaba of Port Coquitlam. B.C., in the 50 butterfly and Alberta in the 4X100 freestyle relay with David Hibberd of Calgary, Kyle Troskot of Lethbridge and Joshua Au and Karl Wolk, both of Edmonton.

Abdel-Khalik had his wisdom teeth pulled two weeks ago and was worried about his fitness level.

“The 400 freestyle was the event that worried me the most but I managed to swim a smart race,” said Abdel-Khalik, 17. “I hadn’t really put in the training that I wanted for this competition in order to recover. But now I feel I’m back on top of things and I’ve gained a lot of confidence for my upcoming races.”

In 100 backstroke for Para swimmers, Sarah Ann Mehain of Vernon, B.C., won the women’s race and Kyle McMahon of Burns Lake, B.C., took the men’s event. McMahon broke the Canadian record in the S7 disability category clocking 1:27.54. Nicholas Lapointe of Victoria also bettered the national mark in the S5 category in the preliminaries.

In the 100 backstroke for Special Olympics athletes, Erica Buehlow of New Hamburg, Ont., won the women’s race for her third gold so far and Adam Rahier of Powell River, B.C., won the men’s race.

Swimming competition at the Games continues through to Saturday.