Kenny MacKenzie of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School is feeling better physically and that’s reflected by his race times in the pool.
During the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference swimming championships at McMaster University on Tuesday, MacKenzie qualified for the provincial high school meet in the 100-metre freestyle with a clocking of 54.83 seconds. That was almost eight full seconds faster than his winning time a few weeks ago in the same event at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championships.
MacKenzie will be competing in the 50 and 100m freestyle at the OFSAA championships March 5-6 at the Wayne Gretzky Centre in Brantford. However, due to a groin injury, he won’t be entered in the open 100m breaststroke event that he won a bronze medal in last year at OFSAA.
“It (the injury to the front of his hip) hinders me from doing the breaststroke,” MacKenzie said at the GHAC meet. “So, really, my only option here was to do the 50 and 100m freestyle. It seems to have worked out really well.”
The 17-year-old member of the Golden Horseshoe Aquatic Club says he’s experienced the muscle discomfort “on and off” since September.
“But it really came on in the last few months,” he said. “That’s when I had to stop and kind of re-evaluate to see what I can and cannot do. I believe I’m at the end of my recovery phase. I was still leery about going all out in the freestyle at the city championships because of my injury. I didn’t want to go too hard and have to restart the process.
“This time, I was able to push it. I should probably be able to start doing the breaststroke and butterfly in the next two to three weeks.”
MacKenzie was also fastest in the 50m finals – 24.75 seconds.
Winners in each event and swimmers achieving OFSAA qualifying times get to compete at the provincial high school showcase meet.
MacKenzie says coming home with a medal for a second straight year is going to be difficult, however, because the teachers’ strike last year limited the public board’s participation. “Last year was my first OFSAA experience of making the final,” he said. “This year it could be a lot different. I expect it to be really fast.”
MacKenzie plans to be back for one more year of high school. He then hopes to compete at the university level.
Brebeuf’s Minichini advances to OFSAA
Another HWCAA representative who excelled at the GHAC meet was Chanel Minichini of St. Jean de Brebeuf. The 15-year-old Grade 9 student qualified for OFSAA in the 50m butterfly, the 100m individual medley and the 50m backstroke. Her time in capturing the girls’ 15-and-under 50m butterfly was 35.42.
Minichini, who used to compete for the Hamilton Aquatic Club and the Golden Horseshoe Aquatic Club for a total of seven years, quit club swimming this year to devote more time to her school work. She says advancing to OFSAA is personally very satisfying.
“I’m really happy,” Minichini explained. “When I was little, I couldn’t make provincials because my birthday is January 1. So every time I would make it, I turned the next age and I never made provincials. It got really frustrating. It made me sad.”
Minichini has been involved in field hockey, volleyball and swimming at Brebeuf.
“Chanel used to swim six days a week,” said Minichini’s mother, Daniela Castaldi, who coaches both Burlington Assumption and Brebeuf and served as a marshal for the GHAC competition. “She’s realizing now that all the dedication and discipline that she learned from swimming is helping with her academics, as well. She knows how to manage her time. She’s done well.”
Georgetown District again was a dominant school. It won the overall combined championship when OFSAA was held at the Etobicoke Olympium in 2013. The Rebels also swept almost all of the divisional titles at the recent Halton championships held at McMaster.