From Feb. 2 to 4, the McGill swimming team competed at the RSEQ Championships in Sherbrooke. Thanks to their prior results at this season’s four RSEQ Cups, the Redmen sat in first place in the conference with a slim two-point lead over the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins. The Martlets also faced strong competition: The Carabins had won seven of the last eight women’s Provincial Championship titles—and the Université Laval Rouge et Or women were vying for another second-place finish after narrowly beating out the Martlets at last year’s championship.
Similar to last season, the UdeM women’s side were crowned provincial champions. This year, however, the Martlets secured second place over the Rouge et Or. Meanwhile, the Redmen held steady and took home the first-place banner.
McGill also celebrated a number of individual honours. First-year David Brenken was awarded Rookie of the Year at the Championship Cup and McGill Head Coach Peter Carpenter—who coaches both the Redmen and Martlets—won Coach of the Year. Ten McGill swimmers were named first-team all stars and 11 made the list for second-team.
“It was very, very gratifying to perform as well as we did at provincials,” Carpenter said.
UdeM has an incredibly dominant women’s team, powered by both Olympians and a deep roster that put them out of McGill’s reach. Therefore, instead of aiming to topple the Carabins at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, the Martlets instead put their minds to avenging their 2017 third-place finish behind Laval. They proved successful in achieving this goal, defeating Laval at every cup and completing their sweep in this competition.
The Redmen’s season goal from the start, meanwhile, was taking home the first-place banner. McGill has fielded strong teams in the past, but with the combination of determined veterans and strong rookies, this squad knew that the provincial title was within reach.
Carpenter attributed the team’s success to its collective work ethic and team dynamic.
“University swimming is the greatest example of turning an individual sport into a team sport,” Carpenter said, explaining the impact that teammates can have on each other throughout a grueling season.
Carpenter pointed back to a speech about dedication that Bradley Crocker, now in his fifth year of university swimming, made at a retreat in September. The talk was a clear example of the impact that teammates can have on each other.
“[Crocker told the team that], for each person, when they’re making a decision that’s going to impact their swimming, [to] ask themselves if it’s something that will benefit the team in the long run,” Carpenter said.
Five months later, it’s easy to see the effect that Crocker’s words have had. Carpenter is proud of his athletes’ efforts—both as individuals and as a team—and the incredible chemistry they have put together.
“[They’re] such a good group of people who genuinely care for each other and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Carpenter said. “The chemistry that they’ve developed is the best I’ve ever had.”
Twenty-eight McGill swimmers qualified for the U-Sports National Championships, which will take place in Toronto this year, starting on Feb. 22. Until then, the athletes will use their time in the pool to fine-tune their strokes as they look to put the finishing touches on a strong season.