One Island dream was realized and another extinguished Saturday in Montreal at the Canadian swimming trials for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
In her final chance, after four close misses earlier in the week in other events, Alexa Komarnycky finally cracked the Canadian team and will be headed to London in the women's 800-metre freestyle.
Komarnycky becomes the sixth Island Swimming/Victoria Academy performer to qualify for the London Games and joins Ryan Cochrane, Alec Page, Blake Worsley, Stephanie Horner and Julia Wilkinson.
"This is such a defining moment and unbelievable for Alexa, especially since this was her last opportunity," said Victoria Academy coach Randy Bennett, who will also coach the Canadian team at London.
"This is one of the best moments I've had as a coach. Alexa has displayed such tremendous perseverance. She just kept coming back and trying. The place went crazy."
But there was heartbreak for Island Swimming/Victoria Academy veteran Stefan Hirniak, who saw London fade away after a third-place finish Saturday in the men's 100-metre butterfly. The favoured Hirniak was stunned earlier in the week to finish fourth in the men's 200-metre butterfly the event in which he holds the Canadian record. His last chance for London was in the 100-metre fly. Hirniak also failed to make the 2008 Beijing Olympics in an upset. At age 27, that's probably it for him.
"Stefan didn't fulfil his Olympic dreams, but he did a lot of great things in his career setting a Canadian record and winning a medal at the Commonwealth Games [Delhi 2010]," Bennett said by phone from Montreal.
"Stefan was a big part of our program in Victoria. He helped build that program [at Saanich Commonwealth Place]. So it was hard watching a career end on a disappointing note."
The winners of the finals at these trials automatically qualify for the London Games. The second-place finishers do so also, but only if they meet the Olympic qualifying standard. That is exactly what Komarnycky did with her second-place time of 8:33.32 half a second under the standard in the women's 800 free behind winner Savannah King of Vernon (8:30.79).
"I knew exactly what I needed to do," said Komarnycky in a release.
"I cracked under the pressure the first couple of days, and I just didn't want that to happen again. I just reset my mind."
The versatile Wilkinson qualified for her third London event by winning the women's 100-metre freestyle in 54.73.
Up today are favoured Hilary Caldwell of Victoria Academy silver-medallist from the UVic Vikes in the women's 200-metre backstroke at the 2011 Summer World University Games in Shenzhen, China and five Island Swimming/Victoria Academy competitors in the men's 1,500-metre freestyle final, led by 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze-medallist Cochrane.
Today's finals, on the closing day of the trials, will be broadcast on
Sportsnet at 4 p.m.
© Copyright 2013