VICTORIA – Four medals: one gold, one silver and two bronze were the result of an outstanding day of racing from the UVic Vikes swimming team at day one of the Canada West Championships on November 24.
“It’s a big night for us, when you see your teammates succeeding it pushes you to do your best for the rest of the meet,” said Vikes swimmer Kaitlin Gervais. “We are not a large team but we are a good team.”
2016-17 U SPORTS gold medal winner Eric Hedlin continued his dominance in the 1500-metre freestyle, finishing 20 seconds ahead of second place to capture Canada West gold and break a four-year old conference record in the process.
“It was a good swim for Eric, it is good to see him get back to a winning position in a more structured race and lay it all on the line,” said Vikes head coach Peter Vizsolyi.
Touching the wall in a time of 14:58.05, Hedlin beat the previous record held by his former Vikes teammate Alec Page by six seconds.
“I just kept looking at the clock to know exactly what my splits were, I was holding a pretty steady pace,” said Hedlin. “I knew it was going to be close to the 15 minute mark so it was stressful in the middle but I pulled it out.”
Second-year Vike Josh Zakala made it two medals for the Vikes in the 1500-metre race when he battled his way to bronze in a time of 15:12.02.
Danielle Hanus picked up the fourth Canada West medal in just her second conference meet when she finished second in the 50-metre backstroke, just half of a second behind UBC’s Ingrid Wilm who broke her own Canada West record to claim gold.
The most exciting race of the night from a Vikes perspective was one that saw the women’s 4×200-metre relay team battle from behind to claim bronze.
Out of medal position for a vast majority of the race, the Vikes team of Hanus, Kara Wilson, Taylor Snowden-Richardson and Gervais fought their way back through the field to finish just one second ahead of the fourth-place Regina Cougars.
“I am really lucky to have the teammates that I do,” said Gervais. “We know each other so well and they know that coming back is something that I can do. To have my team behind me when I have a job to do just makes me want to get it done that much more.”
When asked what was on her mind when she touched the wall and looked up to see that the team had captured bronze, Gervais’ answer was simple.
“Pure joy, it feels so good to do that in a relay with the teammates you love.”
Also recording strong results on the day for the Vikes were Kara Wilson and Zachary Dumas who both posted times good enough to qualify them for the U SPORTS National Championships in the 50-metre breaststroke and 1500-metre freestyle respectively.
The four medals on day one is good enough to put the host Vikes in third-place in both the men’s and women’s teams competitions. With two days of racing left to go at the Saanich Commonwealth Pool, the Vikes are excited to add to their already impressive haul throughout the rest of the competition.
“We are at a great advantage, it’s our home pool and we get to sleep in our own beds,” said Hedlin. “Add in the excitement of the team and the fans and I know we are going to have a good weekend.”
800-metre freestyle: 7th – Kaitlin Gervais (8:53.48), 8th – Victoria Mock (9:01.57), 9th – Taylor Snowden-Richardson (9:02.80), 13th – Anna Letkeman (9:28.0)
50-metre backstroke: 2nd (SILVER) – Danielle Hanus (27.59)
50-metre breaststroke: 8th – Kara Wilson (33:57), 10th – Andrea Farmer (33.58)
4×200-metre freestyle relay: 3rd (BRONZE) – Danielle Hanus, Kara Wilson, Taylor Snowden-Richardson, Kaitlin Gervais (8:22.10)
1500-metre freestyle: 1st (GOLD) – Eric Hedlin (14:58.05), 3rd (BRONZE) – Josh Zakala (15:12.02), 5th – Jon McKay (15:26.42) 7th – Christopher Deegan (15:42.88), 11th – Zachary Dumas (15:51.67), 17th – Justin Howe (16:08.92)
50-metre butterfly: 12th – Daniel Greer (25.57), 15th – Ethan Jensen (25. 93)
50-metre Backstroke: 8th – Buzz Mallender (26.03)
4×200-metre freestyle relay: 5th – Buzz Mallender, Eric Hedlin, Josh Zakala, Jon McKay
TEAM STANDINGS – After Day 1
1. UBC, 246
2. Calgary, 135
3. Victoria, 103
4. Regina, 94
5. Lethbridge, 88
6. Alberta, 85
7. Manitoba, 77
8. Thompson Rivers, 22
1. UBC, 228
2. Calgary, 174
3. Victoria, 148
4. Alberta, 116
5. Regina, 64
6. Lethbridge, 58
7. Manitoba, 22
Canada West Records Broken – Day 1
Eric Hedlin, VIC- Men’s 1500 Freestyle (14:58.05)
Ingrid Wilm, UBC – Women’s 50 Butterfly (26.88)
Ingrid Wilm, UBC – Women’s 50 Backstroke (27.15)
UBC Men’s 4x200m Relay (Yuri Kisil, Markus Thormeyer, Jonathan Brown, Colin Eriks) 7:10.73