Vikes swimmers set to challenge at U SPORTS nationals in Vancouver

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VICTORIA- The University of Victoria Vikes swimming teams are set to take on the nations best later this week at the U SPORTS National Championships, hosted at the UBC Aquatic Centre in Vancouver from Feb 21-23.

SCHEDULE | WATCH LIVE

In 2018, the Vikes men finished fourth in the team standings, while the women finished fifth. This year, the team qualified 18 swimmers including four rookies and will be challenging for as many personal best performances as possible.

“We expect our team to race hard and put up their best times of the season,” said Vikes assistant coach Ryan Clouston. “Based on last year’s results we are hoping to better or at least equal those rankings. Competition will be tough but we believe in our athletes.”

Once again Vikes Danielle Hanus, Josh Zakala and Eric Hedlin will all be medal favourites this year as they all brought home some hardware in 2018. Hanus finished with silver medals in the women’s 100-m butterfly, 50-m backstroke, 100-m backstroke and a gold in the 200-m butterfly last year in Toronto. Hanus’ was runner up to 2016 Olympic bronze medallist and Varsity Blues stand out Kylie Masse in all three of her silver medal performances. Open water specialist Hedlin won a silver medal in the 1500-m freestyle in 2018, while fellow open water swimmer Zakala also took home silver in the 400-m individual medley.

“Our coaching staff has high hopes that Eric Hedlin will medal in the 400-m and 1500-m freestyle events this year,” added Clouston of Hedlin, a 400-m freestyle Vikes record holder and 2017 U SPORTS gold medallist in the 1500-m. “Danielle Hanus is a threat to medal in all the races she competes in and we are confident Josh Zakala can get on the podium again in the 200-m and 400-m individual medley events.”

With strong performances in their respective races Bailey Espersen, Daniel Greer, Ethan Jensen and Kaitlin Gervais could also add to the Vikes medal count throughout the championship.

Notable rookies to watch will be Jamie Hellard and Lauren Taylor, while these championships will be the last for graduating fifth year’s Buzz Mallender and Gervais.

This year’s championship meet will see the preliminary heats being swam in a short course 25-m pool, while in parallel to international standards all of the finals will be raced as a 50-m long course, creating interesting challenges between preliminaries and finals.

“There are many swimmers that are better in long course than short course and vice versa,” explained Clouston of the format set to help transition university athletes to international competition. “Some swimmers will have to do very well in the short course preliminaries to make the final that would be easy for them in long course, format and then have a great chance at night. At the same time, other swimmers will have an easy time in the morning but have a bigger challenge at night in long course.  We have a number of good long course swimmers that should be able to make waves in the finals, but will have to be sharp in the short course prelims.”

The Vikes boast three open water swimmers in Hedlin, Zakala and Deegan who should all compete well in the long course format. The Vikes have a traditionally smaller competing roster than larger schools like Toronto, UBC and Calgary and are therefore focused on individual podium performances and improved team rankings.

The event will begin on Feb. 21 and will be live streamed at usports.live.

Event Schedule

Day 1 (Prelims 10:00 a.m., Finals 6:00 p.m.)
50 free, 100 back, 50 breast, 400 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, 4×100 Medley

Day 2 (Prelims 10:00 a.m., Finals 6:00 p.m.)
200 free, 50 back, 100 breast, 400 IM, 50 fly, 4×200 free

Day 3 (Prelims 10:00 a.m., Finals 6:00 p.m.)
200 fly, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 back, 800 free, 1500 free, 4×100 free

U SPORTS National Championship Roster

Vikes Women:

Allison Ballantyne (50 fly, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 free, 200 IM, 400 free)
Kaitlin Gervais (800 free, 50 free, 200 free, 400 free)
Danielle Hanus (50 fly, 50 back, 100 fly, 200 fly, 100 free, 200 IM, 100 back)
Jamie Hellard (50 breast, 50 free, 100 breast, 200 breast)
Sarah Kirkhope (50 fly, 100 fly, 200 fly, 100 back)
Taylor Snowden-Richardson (800 free, 200 back, 400 free)
Lauren Taylor (50 back x, 50 free, 200 free, 100 free, 400 free)

Kara Wilson (50 breast, 100 breast, 200 free, 200 breast)

Vikes Men:

Chris Deegan (1500 free, 400 IM, 400 free)
Zachary Dumas (1500 free, 400 IM, 200 IM, 200 breast)
Bailey Espersen (50 breast, 100 breast, 100 free, 200 breast)
Arthur Firmino (50 breast, 50 free, 100 breast, 200 breast)
Daniel Greer (50 fly, 50 breast, 100 fly, 100 breast, 200 breast)
Eric Hedlin (1500 free, 200 back, 200 free, 400 free)
Ethan Jensen (50 fly, 100 fly,200 fly, 100 back)
Buzz Mallender (50 back, 200 back, 100 free, 100 back)
Ethan Phillips (1500 free, 400 IM, 200 back, 200 free, 200 IM, 400 free)
Josh Zakala (1500 free, 400 IM, 200 back, 200 IM)

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