After a slow start to the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games, Team North finally started to find its footing during a series of swimming events at the Norplex Pool March 8.
Throughout the course of a single evening, the Norman region managed to make a big impression by securing six medals – three gold and three bronze – increasing Team North’s overall medal count from three to nine.
Over half of this medal haul came courtesy of Jarvis Gibb, an athlete from The Pas who scored three gold medals in the 100-metre individual medley, 50m breaststroke and the 50m freestyle for youth (aged 13–14).
Gibb also helped lead the 200m mixed youth relay team to a bronze medal victory, alongside fellow athletes Connor Brown, Caitlin McDonald and Paige Kirby-McDougall.
The rest of the hardware was captured by Creighton athlete Jordan Gorrell, who scored a pair of bronze medals in the 100m backstroke and 100m individual medley events for junior males (aged 11–12).
While swimming coach Nick Popiel said that his athletes definitely exceeded expectations in a lot of their races, he was really impressed with their ability to roll with the punches and get through the over 40 swimming events that took place on March 8.
“It’s been an extremely long day,” he told the Thompson Citizen once the competition wrapped up. “They were up at 6 a.m. and, in total, 10 hours at the pool, with no time to really rest. Even eating was really rushed. So we really fought hard and persevered.”
Popiel went on to say that this result is particularly special to athletes participating in this kind of sporting event for the first time
“It’s the first time that swimming has been a part of the winter games, and it’s kind of a welcome addition. It’s definitely a mid-season highlight for these guys.”
Gibb would go on to win another pair of gold medals in the 100m breaststroke and 50m butterfly, and silver medal in the 200m mixed medley relay on March 9. This made him Team North’s most decorated athlete in the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games by a long shot, adding to his collection of Manitoba Games medals that includes two silver and five bronze from the 2016 summer Manitoba Games, and giving him the honour of carrying Team North’s flag in the closing ceremonies March 10.