Five members of the Fraser Valley Water Polo club have been chosen to represent Canada at the 2023 PanAm Aquatics Water Polo U17 Championships.
The event occurs in Bauru, Brazil from April 2 to 8.
Abbotsford swimmers Nate Johnson (men’s), Parker Forsberg (men’s) and Alexandra Stoddard (women’s) were all named to their respective Water Polo Canada youth national teams at the event.
The trio all trained with the Abbotsford Whalers Aquatic Club before making the jump to FVWP.
The 14-year-old Stoddard is a goalie with the team and will be one of the youngest players competing at the event. She’s been playing water polo for six years and her family launched a successful GoFundMe on Jan. 31 to make the trip possible. They raised the required $6,500 in about 24 hours.
Also representing the FVWP at the event is White Rock’s Austin Hexter (men’s) and Andjelina Gavrilovic (women’s), as well as Ottawa’s Brooklyn Plomp (women’s). Langley’s Ilya Belyaev will also be going to the event as an alternate.
The FVWP practises in Surrey, Langley and Aldergrove and offers high performance training for athletes in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Langley, Mission, New Westminster, North Delta, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, White Rock.
Other B.C. athletes named to the team include: Vancouver’s Natalia Blazevic (women’s, Pacific Storm Water Polo Club), Vancouver’s Tasha Kulenovic (women’s, PSWPC), Burnaby’s Melania Segulja (Surrey Water Polo Club) and Burnaby’s Riley Milne (women’s, PSWPC).
The championships are held every two years and the athletes competing at the event are all 17 years old and under. There are 12 countries for each of the men’s and women’s categories that represent the four zones of the Americas.
Each country will be looking to qualify for the World Aquatics 2024 World Youth Championships (date and location to be confirmed) as the top four or five men’s teams and the top four women’s teams at the competition in Bauru will earn a spot to compete at that event.
This is the first championships to occur since 2019, as the 2021 event was cancelled due to the pandemic. The best result for the Canadian men’s side was third place, which they earned in 2013, 2015 and 2017. The Canadian women won the first-ever edition of the event in 2011.