Marlins’ James Steele works his plan to win 200 IM cash dash

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — James Steele of the host Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club had a plan when it came to the boys’ 15-16 200-metre individual medley final at the club’s Dash for Cash meet at the Gryphon Aquatic Centre Sunday night.

Steele, who came into the cash event with the second-fastest qualifying time, was going to go out as hard as he could to try to beat fastest qualifier Nicholas Bulban of Richmond Hill. It worked by a fraction of a second as Steele out-touched Bulban by a fraction of a second.

“I knew I had to go out really fast because this morning in prelims he swam really fast on his breaststroke,” Steele said. “I knew that I needed a big lead if I wanted to win that race at all.”

The race saw the competitors complete two lengths using each of the four strokes — butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Steele got ahead in the butterfly and extended it in the backstroke before Bulban closed the gap in the breaststroke and the freestyle.

“My best stroke is breaststroke, but not in my IM,” Steele said. “Usually it’s better, but in that race it was definitely my backstroke. My backstroke was really fast.”

In the final freestyle leg, Steele gave it all he had to hang on to first.

“I could feel him coming up on me and I was just trying to put anything I had left in me in those last 15 metres,” Steele said. “Any longer and he would have beat me.”

The race win capped off an “OK” weekend for Steele.

“(Saturday) wasn’t too good, but Friday and today were pretty good,” Steele said. “Finishing on a good note is always a good thing.”

Steele’s also had a pretty good start to his short-course season.

“This season’s been going really well,” the 15-year-old said. “I’ve been dropping a lot of time. I’ve been trying to work toward Senior Nationals this year.”

Senior Nationals is a long-course meet and he’s close to securing a spot in it in both the 200m backstroke and now 200m IM.

“My short-course time is the same as I have to go long-course,” Steele said. “Long-course is obviously going to be slower so I have time where I can improve and keep working on my strokes.”

Steele also competes for Centennial in high school swimming. For club swimmers, the extra time in the pool can help them in their club swimming as it gives them a chance to try different tactics to see if they can translate to faster times.

“The school season has been going OK,” he said. “We’re not too far into it. We’ve had one or two meets, but I’m really looking forward to OFSAA this year. I can definitely make finals and maybe even get a medal.”

Kristen Quigley of the Marlins won the girls’ 17-and-over’s 200m IM cash race.

The meet finished with the open boys’ and girls’ 50m butterfly eliminator races. They featured a series of races that saw the slowest competitor in each race eliminated and it continued to the final two-person race which was each competitor’s seventh race in a row. The only recovery time during races was while the other gender’s race was being held.

Windsor Aquatic Club competitors won both races with Jasmine Aden and James Potma victorious.