Photo - Jamie Hellard, third year, AP Shutter 2019

In a year that saw in-person competition cancelled, University of Victoria swimmers took every opportunity to push themselves and chase personal records during the 2021 University Swimming Challenge. With no spectators, no family members and no competitors, the Vikes saw many outstanding performances, finishing third on the women’s side (15 points) and fourth on the men’s side (5 points) overall.

The University Swimming Challenge is a new virtual swimming competition in partnership with U SPORTS and Canada Swimming, open to eligible U SPORTS athletes. Running for five weeks from Feb. 27–Apr. 4, all U SPORTS eligible swimmers had the opportunity to post times in any of the 41 events – including all 38 in the U SPORTS championship program.

For Vikes swimmers, the five-week window of competition provided the only opportunity this season to see their hard work come to fruition and to test themselves against swimmers from across the country. In total, 369 student-athletes from 16 schools across all four conferences took part. Other schools participating included UBC, Toronto, Calgary, Dalhousie, Ottawa, Acadia, Western, Lethbridge, McGill, Carleton, Waterloo, Thompson Rivers, Laurentian, UNB and Guelph.

“It was nice for the athletes to see where they are in reference to others. We prepared for it like a real swim meet, taking rest days leading up to competition days. While it was obvious it wasn’t the real thing, it was fun for them to get nervous and feel the butterflies again, said Vikes Program Coach, Ryan Clouston.

We had 78 personal bests, 64 additional season’s bests, as well as several top-three finishes, which was exciting to see. It was great to have our relay teams bring home some wins as well,” he continued.

Vikes athletes put up many notable performances over the course of the five weeks, including some strong rookie performances. Rookie Eli Agostinelli-Stull had all personal bests, including a third in the 200-m freestyle, fourth in the 400-m freestyle, and first in the 4×200-m freestyle relay. Rookie Mareya Valeva also had all personal bests, placing third in the 100-m fly, and taking home a first in the 4×100-m medley relay.

TOP FINISHES:
Mareya Valeva (butterfly): Silver and Bronze
Mariah Fulton (butterfly): Bronze
Sophie Tarrant (breaststroke): two Silvers and a Bronze
Jamie Hellard (breaststroke): Gold and Bronze
Lauren Crisp (backstroke, IM): Silver and 2x Bronze
Eli Agostinelli-Stull (freestyle): Bronze
Daniel Greer (IM): Bronze

RELAYS:
Men’s 4x200m freestyle (Eli Agostinelli-StullMaxwell FangPadric McKervillEthan Phillips): Gold
Women’s 4x200m freestyle (Allison BallantyneLauren TaylorKyla RossAlice Gentleman): Gold
Women’s 4x50m medley (Lauren CrispJamie HellardMariah Fulton, Lauren Taylor): Gold
Women’s 4x100m medley (Lauren CrispSophie TarrantMareya ValevaLauren Taylor): Gold

WOMEN’S STANDINGS

School 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place Total
Toronto 10 5 4 19
UBC 4 8 4 16
Victoria 4 4 7 15
Dalhousie 2 4 2 8
McGill 1 1 1 3
Calgary 1 0 1 2
Ottawa 0 0 2 2
Acadia 0 0 1 1

MEN’S STANDINGS

School 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place Total
UBC 15 10 5 30
Toronto 3 3 3 9
Dalhousie 1 2 3 6
Victoria 1 1 3 5
Ottawa 1 1 2 4
Calgary 0 2 2 4
Western 0 2 1 3
Acadia 0 1 2 3
Lethbridge 1 0 1 2