VICTORIA – Eric Hedlin broke a school record on the way to winning a gold medal in the 400-metre freestyle at the U SPORTS national swimming championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Saturday.
Hedlin registered a time of 3:45.07 to pull off the exciting victory ahead of UBC’s Keegan Zanata and Calgary’s Peter Brothers and break the previous Vikes’ record of 3:48.13, held by Olympian Ryan Cochrane. Teammate Jon McKay finished in fourth spot with a time of 3:51.18 to round out an excellent A Final for the Vikes.
For Hedlin, winner of two open water events at the Australian National Open Water Championships earlier in the year, the win was a pleasant surprise.
“Winning was a surprise—my goal was 3:48 or a medal,” said Hedlin. “I train for the 10 km open water and don’t do much speed work. Ten days ago was really the first time going all out for speed.”
He was also part of a strong relay performance from the men’s 4×200-metre freestyle team that included McKay, Buzz Mallender and Brett Zollen. The four Vikes closed out the day with a fifth-place finish in the event.
“The relay was good and we were in the fourth spot until the last 50 when we were passed by a really strong team,” said Vikes head coach Peter Vizsolyi.
“We are really excited about the relay,” added Hedlin. “We were motivated to go after the club record and we just missed it by a couple of seconds.”
The women’s 4x200m team finished 12th in relay action, with Kaitlin Gervais swimming a team-best 2:04.82.
“On the women’s side it’s strange because Toronto, UBC and Calgary have such big teams,” said Vizsolyi. “We have good swimmers but it’s hard to get past the other teams and into the finals so it’s been a bit of a challenge.”
Victoria gets back at it tomorrow for the third and final day of the U SPORTS Championships. All the action can be watched at sportscanada.tv/usports
DAY 2 TOP VIKES RESULTS:
400m freestyle: Eric Hedlin – 1st (3:45.07)**, Jon McKay – 4th (3:51.18)
4x200m freestyle: Eric Hedlin, Buzz Mallender, Jon McKay, Brett Zollen – 5th (7:24.55)
200m breaststroke: Bailey Espersen – 15th (2:17.09)
** Broke Vikes record set by Ryan Cochrane (3:48.13) in February of 2011