By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s swimming team are hoping their last six months of preparation have led them to peak for this weekend’s Speedo CIS Swimming Championship hosted at Laval University Feb. 26-28. Vikes swimming head coach Peter Vizsolyi, in his 33rd season, is sending eight qualified men and five qualified women to compete in the three-day competition.
In 2015 the Vikes hosted the national championship that saw the UBC Thunderbirds sweep the men’s and women’s titles. The Vikes continue their tradition of having a much smaller, focused contingent of swimmers at the national championship resulting in less opportunities to win the national title. That being said Victoria swimmers have a rich history in individual successes including last year’s bronze medal win by Jon McKay in the 1500m freestyle.
This year the Vikes boast a young group, particularly on the women’s side. Sarah Galbraith brings the most experience and the fourth year will have the opportunity to medal in the most events as she is competing in the 50m, 100m and 200m breast stroke in addition to the 50m and 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Second years Kaitlin Gervais and Taylor Snowden-Richardson will both race the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, while Snowden-Richardson will also race the 200m backstroke.
Rookies Victoria Mock and Kara Wilson will make their CIS debut this season after Mock qualified in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, as well as the 200m butterfly and Wilson qualified in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.
On the men’s side the Vikes boast a trio of fourth years in Richard Bourgeois, Aidan Thirkell and Brett Zollen. Both Bourgeois and Thirkell will compete in the 50m, 100m and 200m breakstsroke and Bourgeois will also race the 50m butterfly. Zollen will take on the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, the 100m breastroke, the 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley.
Third-year Vikes Evan Letkeman and McKay will also bring experience to the team as Lekteman will race the 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly and McKay will compete in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle as well as the 200m butterfly.
Although the Vikes have their eyes on peaking at the upcoming CIS Championships, several Vikes also have their eyes on the upcoming Canadian Olympic Trials, Apr. 5-10 in Toronto. The CIS Championship are an important preparation event for the many post-secondary aspiring Olympians as the CIS championship is now a long course event to match the trial standards of the Olympics. The 2015 CIS championship marked the first time that the event was held as a long course competition.
Competition will run on Feb. 26, 27 and 28 with heats beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST and finals beginning at 6:00 p.m. EST. The event will be live webcast at cis-sic.tv while results will be posted live online here. Full championship information and schedules can be found at the CIS Speedo Swimming Championship website.
VIKES WOMEN’S SWIMMING ROSTER
Sarah Galbraith (50, 100, 200 breaststroke, 50, 100 freestyle, 200 IM)
Kaitlin Gervais (200, 400, 800 freestyle)
Victoria Mock (200, 400, 800 freestyle, 200 butterfly)
Taylor Snowden-Richardson (200, 400, 800 freestyle, 200 backstroke)
Kara Wilson (50, 100, 200 breaststroke)
VIKES MEN’S SWIMMING ROSTER
Richard Bourgeois (50, 100, 200 Breaststroke, 50 Butterfly)
Ryan Howe (200 IM, 50, 100, 200 Backstroke, 100 Butterfly)
Evan Letkeman (100, 200 Backstroke, 200 Freestyle, 200 Butterfly)
Buzz Mallender (100, 200 Backstroke, 50 Fly, 100, 200 Freestyle)
Jon McKay (200, 400, 1500 Freestyle, 200 Butterfly)
Sebastien Michaud (200, 400 IM, 50, 100 Backstroke)
Aidan Thirkell (50, 100, 200 Breaststroke)
Brett Zollen (50, 100, 200 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke, 100 Butterfly, 200 IM)