2014 Canada West Swimming Preview

Masters swimming

(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – The 2014 Canada West swimming championships is on this weekend from Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November 23 at the Max Bell Aquatic Centre in the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

The UBC Thunderbirds come in as favourites again, as their men’s and women’s squads, both ranked number one in the country, look to defend their conference championships.

The Golden Bears, Dinos and Vikes are nationally ranked fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, while the Manitoba Bisons are tied at the ninth spot in the men’s division. On the women’s side, the Dinos are no. 5 followed by the Pandas at seventh and Vikes at eighth.

There will be eight Canada West schools looking to challenge the T-Birds, including the host Lethbridge Pronghorns, the Regina Cougars and first-timer Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. The teams will be vying for the E.W. Griffiths Trophy (men’s) and the Felstad Memorial Trophy (women’s).

Schedule (Mountain Time):
Friday, November 21
Finals: 4:00 pm

Saturday, November 22
Preliminaries: 10:00 am
Finals: 5:00 pm

Sunday, November 23:
Preliminaries: 9:00 am
Finals: 3:00 pm

The finals on all three days will be webcasted live on CanadaWest.TV.

Below are what fans can expect to see from the championships this weekend.

University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men 6th, Women 9th

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 3rd, Women 3rd

Last CIS Title: Men N/A, Women 1974-75

Last CW Title: Men 1992-93, Women 1995-96

Key returnees: Joe Byram, Nick Kostiuk, Hunter Balch, Karlyn Elford, Nikki Macleod
Key additions: Nic Dekker
Key departures: Scott Stewart, Kendra Chernoff, Bobbie Mielnichuk

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas swimming teams once again head to the Canada West swimming championships, to be hosted by the University of Lethbridge from November 21-23, with podium expectations.

Last season, both U of A swimming teams earned bronze medals at the conference meet, and are well positioned to finish top three once again this season.

And, while the program did lose some key student-athletes in Kendra Chernoff, Scott Stewart and Bobbi Mielnichuk, both programs return the bulk of their respective rosters from one year ago.

The 2014-15 season has started out reasonably well for the U of A teams, as they showed very well in dual meets against perennial national powerhouse Calgary, and Toronto, and then finished second overall at a meet in Western. Heading into the conference championship, the Golden Bears are the No.3 ranked team in CIS, and second highest ranked team in Canada West, while the Pandas are ranked seventh in the nation, and third in the conference.

Joe Bryam is Alberta’s big gun on the pool deck this year, as the nationally carded athlete is coming off a summer in which he competed for Canada at Pan Pacific Championships, which ran August 21-24 in Australia, after finishing third in the 100m backstroke at the Canadian Trials. Now in his fourth season, the native of Vernon, B.C. is a former CIS rookie of the year, and a multiple CIS and Canada West medallist.

Joining him in leading the Bears is Nick Kostiuk and Hunter Balch, as well as Evan Letkeman, Nathan Saby, Tanner Dolynny, Tom Krywitsky, Brandon Myers and Nicholas Mastromatteo. New to the U of A men’s team, and looking to make a splash at Canada West, is rookie Nic Dekker, who is also a nationally carded swimmer.

Leading the Pandas will be Nikki Mcleod, who competed at the Commonwealth Games Trials this past summer, as well as returning swimmers Nadine Williams, who swims for Canada in open water events, Karlyn Elford, Christine Kemp, Nichole Moen, Monica Mastromatteo, Kristan Kushlyk, Caitlin Kamminga and Larissa Dorrestijn.
UBC Thunderbirds

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men 2nd, Women 1st

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 1st, Women 1st

Last CIS Title: Men 2011-12, Women 2013-14

Last CW Title: Men 2013-14, Women 2013-14

Key returnees: Coleman Allen, Jonathan Brown, Sergey Holson, Stefan Milosevic, Luke Peddie, Luke Reilly, Savannah King, Fionnuala Pierse, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, Erin Stamp, Rebecca Terejko, Tera Van Beilen
Key additions: Yuri Kisil, Jacomie Strydom
Key departures: Heather MacLean, Laura Thompson

VANCOUVER – Heading into this weekend’s Canada West Championships, the UBC Thunderbirds are once again the favourites to win both the men’s and women’s competitions. Both teams are ranked No. 1 in the CIS and both boast a strong, balanced lineup with every swimmer having the ability to score points.

The women are coming off a record-setting season in 2013-14 in which they won their third straight CIS Championship and a fifth straight Canada West Championship. Last year at the conference championships they set a new meet record for most points (1071) and largest margin of victory (497). Led by the likes of CIS Swimmer of the Year Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, Canada West Swimmer of the Year Savannah King, and Tera Van Beilen, the Thunderbirds have their sights set on another record-setting season.

“It’s never easy to win any event and in the Canada West there are challenges from everywhere, especially from qualified individuals,” said UBC head coach Steve Price. “We would like to defend our titles, but we would also like to see how fast our group can go at this time of year. We have made all our athletes aware of the Canada West records and have put forth a challenge to see if they can break every individual and relay record.”

As for the men, despite winning the program’s 14th conference championship last year, the Thunderbirds are tired of being a bridesmaid at the CIS Championships. UBC has finished runner up to Toronto the last two years. This year the team is led by CIS Swimmer of the Year Coleman Allen, fresh off a silver medal performance at a FINA short course meet in Singapore, national team members Luke Reilly and Luke Peddie, and rookie Yuri Kisil, who is coming off a fourth place finish at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

“With the Canada West Championships moving from January to November this year, I expect the meet to be a lot better and a lot faster than in the past,” said Price. “It comes at a time of year when it means something, instead of in mid-January right after a heavy training block.”

The men’s team features 17 athletes, while the women’s team will have 15 athletes taking part in this weekend’s championships.

University of Calgary Dinos

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men 3rd, Women 3rd

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 2nd, Women 2nd

Last CIS Title: Men 2010-11, Women 2010-11

Last CW Title: Men 2012-13, Women 2008-09

Key returnees: Amanda Reason, Fiona Doyle, Tianna Rissling
Key additions: Stephanie Schmidt, Rachelle Grothe, Josh Dow, Noah Choboter, Chris Courtis
Key departures: David Woodman, Russell Wood

CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos men’s and women’s swim teams will look to regain Canada West supremacy as they compete at the conference championships in Lethbridge, November 21-23.

“We are looking for strong individual performances in the team events that will lead us to stay in the top three teams at the CIS swimming championships and vie for podium finishes at the conference and national level,” said head coach Mike Blondal.

On the women’s side, Dinos Female Athlete of the Year and Irish national team member Fiona Doyle will return for a fifth and final season with Calgary hoping to lead the team to success. The Limerick native won six CIS medals at the championships last year. Also returning for the Dinos is Amanda Reason, a Canadian Olympic team member as well as Tianna Rissling.

Also joining the troops are Stephanie Schmidt, a transfer from Penn State University and Rachelle Grothe who hails from Boulder City, NV. Both are expected to make a splash in their first year as Dinos.

“We are needing leading performances from a number of athletes including some of our key returning Dinos like Reason, Doyle and Rissling. This weekend is an in-training performance demand that will allow the staff to assess the swimmers.”

For the men’s team, Tristan Cote and Bogdan Knezevic return to the lineup. Both won individual gold medals at the CIS Championships last season and Cote was named the CIS Rookie of the Year. Chris Dalen is a consistent leader on the squad who will be a shoo-in to make second swims in all three breaststroke events.

The losses of Russell Wood and David Woodman will take a toll on the Dinos roster this season. Both were part of all three relay teams that captured three CIS silver medals. Wood was an exceptional swimmer last year for the Dinos, sweeping the backstroke events. His presence will be missed this season.

In terms of recruits, Josh Dow will be making an impact in his first season. The Fort McMurray native won three medals at the Age Group Nationals last year in Montreal and at the Commonwealth Game trials placed third. He will hopefully fill the shoes of Wood. Noah Choboter, a Saskatchewan native, and Chris Courtis of the Cayman Islands will also compete as Dinos for the first time. Courtis is a transfer from Wilfred Laurier University.

After competing at the Canada West Championships, the Dinos will prepare for the CIS Championships with meets at UBC, Austin, TX and in Doha, Qatar where the World Championships are being hosted December 3-7. The CIS Championships are set for February 19-21 in Victoria, BC.

University of Lethbridge Pronghorns

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: 13th, Women 21st

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 5th, Women 4th

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Kerri Ann Cowan, Nick van der Sloot, Tiha Konyves, David Errington, Ardelle Layden
Key additions: Devon Chernow, Kalyna Dashko, Christyna Dashko
Key departures: Ryan Thornley

LETHBRIDGE – For the second consecutive season, the Lethbridge Pronghorns swim program will have 29 student-athletes compete in the Canada West Swim Championships, but this year the ‘Horns will welcome the conference to their home pool.

“We are excited to host CW’s and welcome everyone to the best pool in Canada West,” said head coach Peter Schori.

“Can West swimming is very strong with 4 of the top 5 men’s teams and 4 of the top 7 women’s team in the CIS within the conference. It is a big challenge for our men and women but we will give it a go.”

With the lone individual medallist and anchor of the bronze medal 400 Free relay team Ryan Thornley graduating, there is a big hole to fill on the men’s side, but 15 men will compete this weekend at the conference meet.

Returning multiple event finalists Nick van der Sloot, Tiha Konyves, and David Errington will be tasked with leading the ‘Horns at home. The addition of six new swimmers add to the men’s side depth and the underclassmen with be counted on to score points. That new group of swimmers is headlined by Devon Chernow, who should be the most impactful new face with three conference top 10 rankings coming into the meet.

On the women’s side, the ‘Horns will see 14 athletes hit the water this year and return all but one of the team’s scorers from last season, plus the addition of University of Victoria transfers Kalyna & Christyna Dashko increase the strength of the women’s side. The Dashko sisters combined to score points in five events while at the University of Victoria.

While the women lack individual stars, their strength lies in their consistency, while individual leadership will be looked for from Keri Ann Cowan and Ardelle Layden.

University of Manitoba Bisons

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men 15th, Women 17th

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 6th, Women 6th
Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Kimberley Moors, Sydney Gergely, Dillon Perron, Artur Kroitor
Key additions: Gio Wickett , Naomi Kirshenblatt, Brick Kroitor
Key departures: None

WINNIPEG – With the change to the conference swimming schedule in the 2014-15 season, the Canada West swim championship is much earlier in the season and the Manitoba Bisons have had one major meet so far heading into the event.

On the men’s side, Manitoba has cracked the CIS Top 10 rankings as they are number nine in the country with 13 swimmers on the squad. The team is led by two veterans and strong contenders for medals in fourth year Dillon Perron (breaststroke, butterfly) and fourth year Artur Kroitor (freestyle, butterfly). Last year, Perron captured four medals (two silver and two bronze) plus broke a provincial record at the conference championship. He enters this year’s Canada West meet ranked in CIS as third in 100m breast, fourth in 50m breast and sixth in 200m breaststroke. Kroitor had a seventh place finish in 50m freestyle plus two more Top 15 finishes at last season’s Canada West championship. This year, he is eighth ranked in 50m freestyle. Both Peron and Kroitor have already qualified for CIS Championship and have performed well at the Odlum Brown College’s Cup – Pacific meet to start the 2014-15 season. The Bison swim relay teams should also do well with best chance for top finish in the freestyle.

On the women’s team, fourth year Kimberley Moors leads the 11 swimmers on the Bisons as she continues to have a another great season as she has already qualified for CIS Championship and is a medal hopeful in 50m butterfly and freestyle. Moors finished fourth twice and seventh in 2013 conference championship and enters 2014 as the fifth ranked swimmer in CIS in 50m butterfly and fifth in 50m freestyle. Also, at the College’s Cup, she broke a 20-year old Bison record in the 50m freestyle and had three Top 5 finishes.

Fifth year Sydney Gergely is aiming for CIS standard at Canada West and has a chance for a strong swim in 200m breast (ranked in CIS Top 50). Also, rookie Naomi Kirshenblatt and second year Ruth Ormiston are ranked in CIS Top 50 in 200m breast plus rookie Gio Wickett is in the CIS Top 50 in 50m, 100m, 200m back, and fourth year Larissa Best is in the CIS Top 50 in 50m breast and 50m butterfly. The best bet for Manitoba women’s relay team will be in the freestyle.

Head coach Vlastimil (Vlastik) Cerny thinks both teams will perform to their best of the abilities and have some of the largest swim teams in recent history. He commented, “The team has trained very well and I am looking forward to the Canada West championship. Our swimmers swam fast at the College’s Cup in Vancouver earlier in the season and I am expecting exciting racing in Lethbridge.”

University of Regina Cougars

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men N/A, Women 22nd

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 7th, Women 7th

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: Brent Hill, Daniel Gomez, Chris Myers, Eva Madar
Key additions: Eyad Albassiouny, Jacee Kaczmar
Key departures: Craig Soutar, Carlos Quiroz, Samantha Bancescu, Sabrina Wielsoe

REGINA – The University of Regina’s swimming program will send four men and two women to the 2014 Canada West Swimming Championships in Lethbridge this weekend.

Leading the way for the men’s team is first-year swimmer Eyad Albassiouny, who has Canada West standards this year in all three butterfly events and the 50 free. Albassiouny’s season-best time of 2:05.90 in the 200 fly is less than a half second off the CIS standard, so the product of Cairo, Egypt will be looking for an even better performance this weekend to punch his ticket to the national meet in February.

Chris Myers and Brent Hill come into the meet as the team’s most experienced swimmers. Myers, a breaststroke specialist, has qualified for the CIS Championships in all three of his seasons with the Cougars and will be looking to punch his ticket to his fourth national meet this weekend in Lethbridge. Hill, who also qualified for the CIS Championships last season, is looking to replicate his performance from last year’s conference meet which saw him qualify for the ‘A’ final in the 50-metre freestyle.

Also going to the Canada West meet is Daniel Gomez, who finished the 1500-metre freestyle in 16:48.19 at the Colleges Cup three weekends ago to cement his third appearance in as many seasons at the conference championships.

Jacee Kaczmar and Eva Madar will represent the U of R’s women’s team. Kaczmar has had a fine rookie season with three Canada West standards, including in the 50-metre backstroke where her season-best time of 30.63 seconds is just over a half second off of the CIS mark.

Madar qualified for the CIS Championships last season as a first-year athlete and has four conference standards this year. She’s hit the Canada West mark in the 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 fly.

The Cougars will be guided by first-year head coach Abderrahmane Tissira and assistant coach Craig Nieuwstad.

Thompson Rivers University WolfPack

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: N/A

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: N/A

Key returnees: None
Key additions: Sarah McChesney
Key departures: None

KAMLOOPS – This is the first year of Thompson Rivers’ swimming program. The WolfPack are coached by former Calgary Dino and longtime community coach Brad Dalke. The program works in conjunction with the Kamloops Classics swim team.

Dalke is a three time CIAU (now CIS) champion swimmer from the University of Calgary. His coaching mentors include long-time Canadian Olympic coach Derek Snelling and Jim Fowling, a former Canadian national team and Australian National Institute of Sport coach.

“My first original proposal for a swim team goes back almost 10 years,” says Dalke, who swam collegiately with the likes of Tom Ponting and Mark Tewksbury. “It’s been a long time coming. We are really excited. For us in Kamloops, having a team allows us to keep our swimmers at home rather than have them move to the coast, Calgary or the United States to compete. It is an opportunity for swimmers in our age group (grade 10-12), many swimming at the varsity level already, to get the chance to solidify their training experience.”

The WolfPack will have only one swimmer competing at the Canada West championships, first-year Sarah McChesney from Prince Rupert, BC. She has a number of top 10 rankings in the province in the 200, 400 and 800 meter freestyle. “We are hoping she will make it into the top eight in those events,” says Dalke. “It should be an interesting week for us.”

University of Victoria Vikes

2013-14 CIS Standings Finish: Men 7th, Women 13th

2013-14 Canada West Standings Finish: Men 4th, Women 5th

Last CIS Title: N/A

Last CW Title: Men N/A, Women 1979-80

Key returnees: John McKay, Rachael Newman
Key additions: Ryan Howe, Robert Hill, Rosie Moulton
Key departures: Nick Sinclair, Stephanie Horner

VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s swim teams will be heading to the 2014 Canada West swimming championships, November 21-23, hosted by Lethbridge.

A total of 25 Vikes swimmers will race in this weekend’s event. On the men’s side, second-year swimmer Jon McKay will be a medal hopeful in the 1500-m freestyle and 200-m butterfly. In last year’s Canada West Championship, McKay earned silver in the 1500-m freestyle.

Also returning to the pool is third year Rachael Newman who will be a strong contender in the 100-m and 200-m butterfly. In 2014, the Victoria native returned from the CIS Championships after racing a personal best eighth-place in the 200-m fly.

Rookies Ryan Howe, Robert Hill and Rosie Moulton are the top recruits for the Vikes.

This time around, the Vikes will have to do without two-time Olympian Stephanie Horner on the women’s team and Nick Sinclair for the men.