Marlins’ Jensen gets a little extra cash for presents

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – Ryan Jensen of the Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club earned himself a little extra spending money for Christmas by claiming a pair of victories in the Marlins’ TD Dash for Cash meet Friday night at the Gryphon Aquatic Centre.

“It’s nice,” Jensen said. “Now I’ll be able to buy my mom something nice.”

The 18-year-old from Woodstock won the male 17-and-over’s 100-metre backstroke and 100m butterfly finals and the accompanying cash prize. He was also the runner-up in the 100m breaststroke final, finishing behind William Barrett of the Marlins.

“I went best times in my three races so that’s good,” he said. “It’s the first meet that Kendra (Marlins coach Kendra Burton) has allowed us to wear racing suits so it’s nice to be able to feel speed finally.”

In his victories, Jensen won by healthy margins including a win by more than five seconds in the backstroke.

It was the first time Jensen swam in the meet as a Marlin, a club he joined about a year ago after the South Western Aquatics team of Tillsonburg shut down.

“That sucked so I moved to Guelph,” he said.

With SWA going under, Jensen needed to find a club and a billet family. He approached the Marlins, they checked their members and Barrett’s family stepped up and took him in.

“I’ve got to thank them for allowing me to join their house and for doing everything they do for me,” he said. “I contacted Kendra and she said she’d check around and see if someone would host me. I’ve been really lucky with my billet.”

He’s also attending Centennial CVI and swimming on their varsity team. That gives him a busy weekend as he represented the Spartans in the Gryphon High School Invitational Thursday and is to swim all three days of the Dash for Cash meet.

“It’s not too bad,” Jensen said. “Usually the high-end meets are four days, meets like Nationals and Seniors and Trials. It’s not too bad. We’re used to it.”

Jensen has been welcomed with open arms by Marlins swimmers and also Gryphon varsity swimmers the days the two elite Marlins swim with them.

“When we’re training, the atmosphere is amazing,” he said. “Everyone helps push each other and that’s great.”

The experience with the Marlins is a different one than he had with the club in Tillsonburg where there wasn’t as many members.

“In my specific elite group, there were four of us,” Jensen said. “It was nice having just four swimmers because our coach could coach us a lot. We had a lot more attention and we had more room to swim. But this is still great. I’ve loved both training atmospheres I’ve been in and I’m not one to complain.”

Jensen’s stay in Guelph won’t be a lengthy one as he’s to head west next fall to attend the University of Regina and swim for their varsity team.

“It’s going to be cold, but it should be a lot of fun,” he said. “At a couple of meets last year in the summer they had some of their swimmers come up to me and ask me to look at it so I did and I went out there in October and it was great. And they offered me a scholarship I couldn’t resist.”

To get ready for swimming at the university level, Jensen has put his focus on attaining times in his events that would qualify him for this school year’s national university championship meet.

“I’d love to make the U Sports times,” he said. “It’s a bit faster than Trials so if I can do that, I’ll be extremely happy.”

The Dash for Cash meet continues with morning, afternoon and evening sessions both Saturday and Sunday.

Jensen is also entered in his age group’s 50m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke events.