OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of British Columbia women and University of Calgary men hope to defend their team titles while a number of Olympians will be looking to enter the record books when the 2009 CIS swimming championships get under way on Thursday, February 19, at UBC’s Thunderbird Aquatic Centre, in Vancouver.
Official website (live results and video webcast): www.cisport.ca/e/championships/swimming/2009
The UBC women have captured the last 11 CIS banners – an unprecedented run in any CIS sports – and 14 of the last 15.
On the men’s side, the Dinos put an end to the Thunderbirds’ record streak of 10 straight national titles a year ago, earning their first Nelson C. Hart trophy since 1997. The triumph ended a decade of frustration for Calgary, which had finished second to UBC 10 years running.
The U of C women are currently experiencing that same kind of frustration. The Dinos, who are still looking for a first national crown, have placed second behind the T-Birds at the last eight CIS championships.
Calgary claimed both team banners at last month’s Canada West championships, dominating UBC 923-573 in women’s competition and 923-687 in the men’s standings.
In its quest of a first-ever CIS title, the U of C women’s squad can count on the last three CIS rookies of the year in Katy Murdoch (2005-06), Kevyn Peterson (2006-07) and Breanna Hendriks (2007-08), as well as on the frontrunner for this season’s award, 2008 Olympian Erica Morningstar, who won seven medals – including six golds – and set six conference records in seven races at the Canada West meet in January.
Morningstar, a Regina native who helped two Canadian relays reach finals at last summer’s Beijing Games, will be one of seven Olympians hoping to make a splash in the Thunderbird Aquatic Centre pool.
Dino teammate Mike Brown of Perth, Ont., missed a 200-metre breaststroke medal by 0.09 seconds in Beijing, after finishing sixth in the event at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Former CIS swimmers of the year Annamay Pierse (2007-08) of Edmonton and Scott Dickens (2004-05) of Ancaster, Ont., will lead the charge for UBC. Pierse reached two finals in Beijing, finishing fifth in the 200m breast and seventh with the 4 x 100m medley relay, while Dickens represented Canada in 2004 in Athens.
Other Olympians who should star in Vancouver this week include Waterloo’s Keith Beavers of London, Ont., as well as Toronto teammates Colin Russell of Burlington, Ont., and Luke Hall of Swaziland, Africa.
Beavers was seventh in the 200m individual medley in Beijing and also swam for Canada in Athens. Russell was a member of the Canadian 4 x 200m and 4 x 100m relays that finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in Beijing. Hall swam the 50m freestyle for his native country in China.
Mike Blondal, the 13-year head coach of the U of C program, thinks his women’s squad is ready for a breakthrough CIS meet and acknowledges that the title is probably his team’s to lose.
“I do think we’d have to mess up to lose it, but we’re going to have to work hard. There are a lot more teams at this meet than at Canada West, but the girls are pretty primed and I think we could set some national records.
“Our women’s team in some areas will be fairly dominant. I really think the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay has a chance to break the senior national record, not just the club or CIS records. And I think they can do it by a pretty long way.”
That U of C 4 x 200m free relay is comprised of none other than Murdoch, Peterson, Hendriks and Morningstar.
For Blondal, success on the men’s side is all about the swimmers who may not necessarily wind up standing on the podium.
“Our strength on the men’s side is our depth. We have some really good swimmers. We have an Olympian in Mike (Brown) and we’re going up against a team (UBC) that has a couple Olympians and some excellent swimmers, but they’re maybe not quite as deep.
“It’s going to be a saw-off. It will be a really good, hard-fought swim meet, and that’s what it’s all about. Everyone likes to win, but I think a hard-fought meet gets more out of people than an easy sweep.”
For UBC coach Derrick Schoof, the CIS championships should once again be very exciting.
“On the women’s side we will be looking for some excellent individual performances from our standouts including Annamay Pierse. I think that Calgary’s team is strongest I have ever seen it so we will have to go in there and do our best. It may be the end of our 11-year run but I think that could be a good thing for the sport and for Calgary, who has been second for quite some time and has worked hard to get where they are.
“Our men’s program is looking very strong with some very good early-season performances. Scott Dickens will lead the team into what should shape up to be an excellent battle with the Dinos. We are going in ranked as the underdog but I know our guys want it bad and will compete very hard for a chance to be national champions. It will take every man to step up in every race if we want to have a shot at the title.”
In the other CIS regional associations, the Laval Rouge et Or and Dalhousie Tigers swept the QSSF and AUS team banners, respectively, while the Western Ontario women and Toronto men were crowned in Ontario.
Western ended the U of T’s eight-year domination of OUA women’s swimming.
The Laval women have finished third at the CIS championships three years running, while the Rouge et Or men claimed CIS bronze for the second time in three seasons in 2007-08.
“Obviously, we want to hold on to our third-place finishes from a year ago, but we realize it won’t be easy, competition is very strong,” said Laval coach Nicholas Perron, whose star swimmer Chanelle Charron-Watson retired from the pool two weeks ago due to an injury. “It will be especially difficult on the women’s side as we only take six swimmers to Vancouver.”
Dalhousie, which has captured the last 11 men’s titles and eight straight women’s banners in the AUS, was seventh in both the men’s and women’s standings at last year’s CIS meet.
“If strength is in numbers, we will do very well this week,” said Dalhousie head coach David Fry. “We have been fortunate to have fairly large contingents at the last number of CIS championships but this year we topped them all. We have qualified a full complement of 18 men and will also have 13 women in Vancouver. Many of them have accomplished lifetime bests this season and we hope to translate that into a top-8 finish for the men and top-10 for the women.”
The Western women were eighth at the national level a year ago, while the Toronto men were fourth.
“Certainly we have no illusions of making a run at UBC or Calgary,” said Western head coach Paul Midgley. “We don’t intend on letting those schools win every event though, and while we won’t compete in every race we have some individual swimmers who can go with the best from other schools.”
The Mustangs’ brightest star is sophomore Hayley Nell of London, who was named the top female swimmer at OUA championships for the second straight year after she tallied six gold medals, broke a conference record in the 100m free and led the Western women to their first team title since 1985-86.
“Hayley is starting to develop the skills and more importantly the maturity and confidence of a great champion,” Midgley said.
Toronto coach Byron MacDonald has high hopes for his men’s team.
“The goal from September 1st for our men’s squad was to gain a spot on the team podium at the CIS championships and that remains the goal after our strong conference win. UBC and Calgary will be favoured to finish 1-2 but the third spot is doable.”
As was the case in the last Universiade cycle two years ago, every gold medalist at the CIS championships will automatically earn a spot on the Canadian roster for the 2009 world university games that will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, July 1-12.
“CIS swimming is an integral part of the development of Swimming Canada’s international program,” said Pierre Lafontaine, CEO and National coach for Swimming Canada. “The Swim-to-Win attitude from our university swimmers makes the CIS championships a very competitive and exciting meet. Our goal is to keep increasing the level of swimming at the University level in Canada.”
The heats at the 2009 CIS championships will start at 10 a.m. Pacific Time every day from Thursday to Saturday, while the finals will get under way at 6 p.m. PT.
NOTE: McGill freshman Valérie Grand’Maison of Fleurimont, Que., who will compete in the relays at the CIS championships, was Canada’s most decorated athlete at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, with three gold medals, a pair of silvers and one bronze.
2009 CIS SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE (Heats 10 a.m. PT / Finals 6 p.m. PT)
Thursday, Feb. 19 (order of finals)
#1 Women’s 200m Free
#2 Men’s 200m Free
#3 W 50m Back
#4 M 50m Back
#5 W 100m Breast
#6 M 100m Breast
#7 W 100m Fly
#8 M 100m Fly
#9 W 400m IM
#10 M 400m IM
#11 W 4 x 100m Free Relay
#12 M 4 x 100m Free Relay
Friday, Feb. 20 (order of finals)
#13 W 100m Back
#14 M 100m Back
#15 W 50m Fly
#16 M 50m Fly
#17 W 400m Free
#18 M 400m Free
#19 W 200m Breast
#20 M 200m Breast
#21 W 50m Free
#22 M 50m Free
#23 W 200m Fly
#24 M 200m Fly
#25 W 4 x 200m Free Relay
#26 M 4 x 200m Free Relay
Saturday, Feb. 21 (order of finals)
#27 W 800m Free
#28 M 50m Breast
#29 W 50m Breast
#30 M 200m Back
#31 W 200m Back
#32 M 100m Free
#33 W 100m Free
#34 M 200m IM
#35 W 200m IM
#36 M 1500m Free
#37 W 4 x 100m Medley Relay
#38 M 4 x 100m Medley Relay
PAST CIS TEAM CHAMPIONS
– UBC has won the last 11 titles (CIS record), and 14 of the last 15;
– Calgary has finished second 8 years running;
– Toronto was the last team other than UBC to win the title, in 1996-97;
– Most CIS titles since 1970-71 (inaugural CIS championship): UBC (16), Toronto (14).
– Calgary ended UBC’s record run of 10 straight titles last year; the Dinos had finished second the previous 10 years;
– UBC was crowned every season from 1997-98 to 2006-07;
– Before UBC’s run, Calgary had won 3 straight titles from 1994-1995 to 1996-97;
– Most CIS titles since 1964-65 (inaugural CIS championship): Toronto (16), Calgary (13), UBC (11).
PAST CIS SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR (last 10 years)
2007-08 Annamay Pierse, UBC
2006-07 Erin Gammel, Calgary
2005-06 Kelly Stefanyshyn, UBC
2004-05 Jennifer Carroll, UQTR
2003-04 Erin Gammel, Calgary
2002-03 Liz Warden, UBC
2001-02 Liz Warden, UBC
2000-01 Sophie Simard, Laval
1999-00 Jessica Deglau, UBC
1998-99 Jessica Deglau, UBC
1997-98 Sarah Evanetz, UBC
2007-08 Callum Ng, UBC
2006-07 Brian Johns, UBC
2005-06 Callum Ng, UBC
2004-05 Scott Dickens, UBC
2003-04 Chad Murray, Calgary
2002-03 Brian Johns, UBC
2001-02 Brian Johns, UBC
2000-01 Rick Say, Calgary
1999-00 Bob Hayes, Toronto
1998-99 Curtis Myden, Calgary
1997-98 Mark Versfeld, UBC
CIS CHAMPIONSHIP RECORDS
50m Freestyle: Marie Armentero, Toronto, 1988, 25.47
100m Freestyle: Audrey Lacroix, Montreal, 2006, 55.15
200m Freestyle: Sophie Simard, Laval, 2004, 1:57.10
400m Freestyle: Carla Geurts, UNB, 2002, 4:07.60
800m Freestyle: Carla Geurts, UNB, 2003, 8:30.39
50m Backstroke: Jennifer Carroll, UQTR, 2005, 27.57
100m Backstroke: Erin Gammel, Calgary, 2007, 59.61
200m Backstroke: Kelly Stefanyshyn, UBC, 2001, 2:08.15
50m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2008, 31.57
100m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2008, 1:07.12
200m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2008, 2:23.50
50m Butterfly: Jennifer Carroll, UQTR, 2008, 27.02
100m Butterfly: MacKenzie Downing, Victoria, 2008, 59.31
200m Butterfly: Audrey Lacroix, Montreal, 2007, 2:08.69
200m Individual Medley: Nancy Sweetnam, Laurentian, 1993, 2:10.90
400m Individual Medley: Liz Warden, Toronto, 2003, 4:38.21
4x100m Medley Relay: UBC, 2008, 4:04.95
(Rachelle Salli, Annamay Pierse, Erin Miller, Stephanie Nicholls)
4x100m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2006, 3:42.63
(Hayley Dooley, Kelly Stefanyshyn, Elizabeth Collins, Caitlin Meredith)
4x200m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2002, 8:01.16
(Elizabeth Collins, Katie Brambley, Kelly Doody, Jessica Deglau)
50m Freestyle: Ryan Tomicic, McGill, 2004 / Martyn Forde, Toronto, 2008, 22.56
100m Freestyle: Chad Hankewich, Calgary, 2008, 49.12
200m Freestyle: Brian Johns, UBC, 2007, 1:44.47
400m Freestyle: Rick Say, Calgary, 2001, 3:43.91
1500m Freestyle: Turlough O’Hare, UBC, 1992, 14:52.32
50m Backstroke: Chris Renaud, Calgary, 1997, 24.25
100m Backstroke: Chris Renaud, Calgary, 1997, 52.55
200m Backstroke: Chris Renaud, Calgary, 1997, 1:54.68
50m Breaststroke: Scott Dickens, UBC, 2005, 27.85
100m Breaststroke: Scott Dickens, UBC, 2005, 59.91
200m Breaststroke: Jon Cleveland, Calgary, 1990, 2:09.69
50m Butterfly: Darryl Rudolf, UBC, 2006, 24.20
100m Butterfly: Tom Ponting, Calgary, 1989, 52.62
200m Butterfly: Brian Johns, UBC, 2003, 1:54.76
200m Individual Medley: Brian Johns, UBC, 2003, 1:56.23
400m Individual Medley: Brian Johns, UBC, 2003, 4:02.72
4x100m Medley Relay: UBC, 2006, 3:35.52
(Callum Ng, Scott Dickens, Darryl Rudolf, Brian Johns)
4x100m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2003, 3:17.53
(Brent Hayden, Mark Johnston, Justin Tisdall, Brian Johns)
4x200m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2003, 7:10.95
(Brian Johns, Mark Johnston, Brent Hayden, Justin Tisdall)
About Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Fifty-one members, 10,000 student-athletes and 550 coaches vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. The CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, and 32 World University Championships. For further information, visit www.universitysport.ca