PREVIEW: Swimming to compete in three-day Canada West Championships with medals up for grabs

VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men's and women's swim teams will get another chance to test themselves against the best in the west when they travel to Edmonton for three days at the Canada West Championships.

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VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s swim teams will get another chance to test themselves against the best in the west when they travel to Edmonton for three days at the Canada West Championships.

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The meet offers the Vikes some different opportunities.

For those athletes that have already posted a time good enough to qualify them for the U Sports national championships this weekend will be about continuing to see the quality of times they can put up without resting for the event.

The Vikes that haven’t yet posted a national qualifying time will be hoping that the high quality of competition in Edmonton gives them the boost that they need.

“In swimming you can only rest a few times a year if you want to have have good quality peak performances,” said Vikes head coach Peter Vizsolyi. “The very best kids who have already qualified for nationals won’t really be resting for this meet.”

“They will be trying to get to a really good performance level without resting and without shaving.”

About the Event

There are eight schools sending athletes to the championships and the Vikes 29 swimmers competing is the fifth-largest roster at the meet.

The UBC T-Birds and Calgary Dinos are expected to once again be near the top of the team standings but with multiple medal winners from last years competition returning for the Vikes, they have the opportunity to improve on the fourth place finishes that both the women and men earned last season.

Kaitlin Gervais played a role in four of the five medals won by UVic last year, capturing bronze in the 800-m Freestyle, 200-m Freestyle, 400-m Freestyle and the 800-m Freestyle Relay.

Victoria Mock also returns after her silver medal-winning performance in 800-m Freestyle.

Mock, Gervais and Taylor Snowden-Richardson were all members of the bronze-medal winning 800-m Freestyle team last season.

While Jon McKay was held off the podium at the Canada West Championships last season, the fourth-year swimmer proved he belongs with the best by capturing gold in the 1500-m Freestyle at the national championships.

Scouting the Course

With exam season nearing, the travel to Edmonton presented some challenges for the Vikes.

“We are trying not to miss any school for this because we are so close to exams, we are flying out Thursday night after class,” said Vizsolyi. “It’s not really the number of days you would ideally want to get in there before a competition but it’s what is practical for the athletes.”

The cold weather and high elevation of Alberta could also have an effect on a Vikes team that is strong in the middle and longer distance events.

“The thing with going to Alberta is that sometimes if it’s really cold they will shut the ventilation down and re-circulate air, which can affect the distance events,” said Vizsolyi. “Edmonton is not as high as Calgary but just high enough that if you are a distance swimmer and go out too hard, it can affect your back end.”

Coach’s Take
Peter Vizsolyi, Vikes head coach

“We tend to have a bit more distance and middle distance swimmers, other programs that are more geared toward the sprint side may be resting their sprinters.”

“We are trying to carefully balance getting a good performance without impacting negatively on our physical preparation for the rest of the season, while also accounting for exams.”

“I think some of our novice kids have done a pretty good job and I’ve been impressed with the way they have been competing hard. Sometimes they come in from a small town and the competition here is a lot better and they can struggle with that, being a little shell-shocked. Overall as a group they have actually been pretty good at competing hard.”

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