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12-year-old swimmer breaks 12-year-old record

Jessica Schmidt broke the league record for the 25-metre butterfly stroke this season, a strong one for the Woolwich Wave contingent. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The Woolwich Wave swim team had more than a few podium finishes at the South Western Ontario Recreational Swimming Association (SWORSA) meets this year. As a bonus, one of its competitors set a new record.

Competing against the Fergus Flippers and Kincardine Kippers, most recently at the Woolwich Memorial Centre June 28, 12-year-old Woolwich swimmer Jessica Schmidt broke the SWORSA record for the 25-metre butterfly stroke event.

Coming in at 15.29 at an earlier swim meet in Kincardine, Schmidt broke a record that was last set in 2006, exactly 12 years ago.

“I’ve been working on it for a while, so it felt good,” said Schmidt of her record-breaking race. Although set outside of the finals, the record is still considered official by the league as long as it happens at any one of the swim meets in the summer.

For Schmidt, that’s a bit of a relief. “I don’t think I’ll be able to break it again,” she added.

Competing in the 25-metre butterfly category, or one lap of the pool at the WMC, the race is all about power and speed over long term endurance.

“So we don’t do super long distances in this club,” said Erin Schmidt, Jessica’s mother and an organizer on the Woolwich Wave. “But this is her last year in the 11/12 category that does 25 (metres) that stroke. Next year you’ll move to 13 and 14 and every stroke will be at least two laps. We do some longer distances in freestyle.”

Besides breaking the record for butterfly, Jessica was one several other swimmers from the Woolwich Wave to place first at the semi-finals. And because membership numbers have swelled this past year for the swim team, it means Woolwich has a shot at the championship, says Erin Schmidt.

“The team did really well,” she noted. “I mean a lot of it is just about, in terms of whether or not we win the overall championship, is a little bit about numbers, about having enough, and we have pretty much equal team in size to Fergus this year, so that’s a great plus. Lots of kids.”

About 55 to 60 kids were competing in this year’s swim meets, says Schmidt. That’s up significantly from about 35 last year.

The result – besides a lot more active kids in the community – is that Woolwich stands a good chance to claim the SWORSA championship for the second year in a row. Last year, the team won two out of the three trophies available in the league: the overall championship trophy and the girl’s trophy. And with a larger number of boys competing this year, the team now also has a fighting chance to claim the boys’ trophy as well.

Of course, while that will no doubt be exciting news to some, the Woolwich Wave is still more of a recreational than a competitive team. The main purpose of competing is just to keep kids in the township exercising over the summer, while those interested in more competitive swimming tend to join the teams available in the city.

“I think it’s great. And we’ve got a whole range of kids that really like that part about it. Just for fitness, and some competitive to keep the kids interested,” said Schmidt.

The final swim meet will be held, as per tradition, in neutral waters of the Wilmot recreation centre on Saturday.

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