UPEI Panther Swimming team attends AUS championship

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(ISN) – Charlottetown, PEI —The University of Prince Edward Island swimming team leaves for Halifax today to compete at the 2015 Subway AUS Swimming Championship.

The UPEI Panthers varsity swimming team has had a strong year and looks to perform well at the three-day championship meet being hosted by Dalhousie University at DALplex, February 6-8th. Six teams will compete: UPEI, Dalhousie, Acadia, University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison, and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The Panthers are sending seven enthusiastic swimmers who will strive for lifetime bests. The top 16 finishers in every race will score points to determine the team’s overall ranking for the championship. On the women’s side, the goal is to place fifth overall ahead of rival Memorial. On the men’s side, with only two male athletes, the goal for the Panthers is to score as many points as possible and gain experience for future championships.

Team Captain Rebekah Nitchsmann will lead the team in the freestyle events. She will look to continue her early season success by taking a stab at placing top 8 in the 200 Freestyle. Fellow second-year swimmers, Joël Legault and Katie VanLeeuwen, will be both shooting for final swims especially in their best events, the 100 Butterfly and 200 Freestyle. These team veterans have a strong chance to land in the finals in each of their events.

The team has a great group of rookies who will all challenge for final spots. Martin Sobey has been improving all season and will take on the mile in the 1500 Freestyle. Hannah Jenkins will look to break her own UPEI Panther records set earlier this year in the breaststroke events. Brittany Hill will challenge for “finals” spots in the butterfly events. Freestyle specialist Emily Swaine will make her mark in the 400- and 800-freestyle, potentially in record fashion.

The relay team of Nitchsmann, Swaine, Jenkins, and VanLeeuwen will also seek to break the UPEI 4×100 Freestyle record, held by a team that included Panther alumnae, AUS Champion and Olympian Janet Gamble. The current team has a good shot to take out the record of 4:12:02, although it will require all four swimmers to be on their “A” game.

The UPEI Panthers are up for the fierce competition in the pool. The preliminary session starts at 10:00 am each day with the finals beginning at 6:00 pm.