Four years ago, local athlete Lauren Crisp wanted nothing to do with swimming and thought she raced her last lap inside Saanich Commonwealth Place.
Three years later, she changed her mind and now has a pair of U SPORTS National Swimming Championship medal to show for it.
“It’s crazy. It’s insane. I can’t believe I actually medalled – twice,” said Crisp. “It still feels super surreal for me, coming back this year after three years, I never really considered this to be an option for me.”
By all accounts, Crisp had been have a fantastic championship. She already had a pair of ‘A’ Final appearances in the 400m individual medley (seventh) and
narrowly missed the podium in the 100m back (fifth).
“The crazy thing is that going into those two other events, I didn’t know I was going to make the ‘A’ Final because they weren’t my best events. But what those two appearances did was give me the confidence to go out and compete against the top swimmers in the country,” said Crisp, a Reynolds Secondary grad.
The 200m is the most taxing of the backstrokes, but luckily Crisp’s favourite. The only issue was that she had to gear up in six previous races before her 200m preliminary race began.
By the time the morning of Day 3 rolled around, the Social Sciences student found the energy to shave 1.38 seconds of her U SPORTS entry time and sat third after the morning swim.
From there, adrenaline took over.
“I was really excited before the race. I knew my team was behind me and my coaches believed in me. More importantly, I believed in myself, which was really great because usually I get really nervous before the 200m back. But I channeled that nervousness into positive energy and it paid off,” said Crisp.
Clean into the water, Crisp was in second after the first 50m. She lost a little ground over the next 100m and dropped down to fourth as her splits hit the 34-second mark, but she didn’t waiver.
“On my turns I could see kind of see the people beside me, so I knew I was close and had to go for it,” said Crisp.
Turning on the afterburners, she closed with a 33.54, passed Ellard Olivia of UBC (who medalled three times this week) and won the silver in 2:14.84.
“I still can’t believe it,” said the Second Team All-Canadian Crisp.
She wasn’t off the hook yet, though.
Before Peter Vizsolyi closed the books on his 37th national championship as head coach of the Vikes, he tabbed Crisp to be his lead in the 4×100 individual medley relay.
Four Vikes: Crisp (back), Jamie Hellard (breaststroke), Danielle Hanus (butterfly) and Alexandria Hedges (freestyle) emptied the tanks and clawed their way to a bronze medal.
“That was the cherry on top,” said Crisp. “We set a Vikes record by seven seconds with that swim and all our girls worked so hard. I’m very appreciative of their support. That was the perfect ending.”
Crisp’s 200m and the relay weren’t the only medals won on the final day.
After missing out on the ‘A’ Final in the men’s 400m freestyle by fractions of a second, Eric Hedlin battled back, closed strong and won the bronze in the 1,500m freestyle. With his third-place finish, Hedlin ended his Vikes career on top and medalled all four times he entered that race (the previous three were golds).
While the Vikes might not have finished as high in the standings as they did last year, those medal winning performances and a handful of other strong showings in Day 3 final races produced more points than last year’s teams. The men closed out in sixth with 494 (472.5 last year) and the women took fourth with 552.5 (312 last year).
Helping boost those scores was Kyla Ross, who saw her best individual finish come in the women’s 800m free, where she placed seventh in 9:01.41.
Bailey Espersen advanced to an ‘A’ Final this morning in the highly competitive men’s 50m breast. He took home seventh in 29.23.
Daniel Greer wrapped up his season by winning the ‘C’ Final in the 50m breast with a time not too far off of Espersen’s, at 29.66.
Hellard had to share a pool with the two-time reigning women’s Swimmer of the Year all week, Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog. The second-year swimmer held her own and placed fifth in the 50m breast final.
In her last race as a Vike, Kara Wilson placed 12th in the country in the 50m breast with a swim of 33.96.
Looking for his second medal of the weekend, U SPORTS record holder in the 400m individual medley Josh Zakala finished less than two seconds away from a bronze in the men’s 200m back. He wasn’t done with the grueling races, as he returned for the 1,500m with Hedlin and clocked in 10th place in 16:06.97.
Ethan Phillips might not have had the weekend he was dreaming of, but he kept battling and helped the 4x100m individual relay team of Zakala (back), Espersen (breast) and Hedlin (free) bring home sixth with a time of 3:51.67.
Padric McKervill also won his final heat of the season, as he won the ‘C’ Final in the 200m individual medley in 2:08.87. Zachary Dumas and Espersen swam in the same heat as McKervill and finished right behind one another in 22nd and 23rd.
Allison Ballantyne also wrapped up her season in 23rd when she touched in at 2:28.56 in the 200m individual medley finals.