Eighteen McGill swimmers competed at the three-day 2015 CIS Swimming National Championship at the University of Victoria this past weekend. UBC won both the men and women’s titles, hauling in an incredible 34 individual medals in the process and extending the Thunderbirds’ winning streak at Nationals to four in a row on the women’s side.
McGill’s lone podium finish came on day one as a bronze in the women’s 400m individual medley, in which Martlet team captain Katie Caldwell of White Rock, BC came in third with a time of 4:51.53. The 2013 CIS Rookie-of-the-Year, Caldwell’s performance is made all the more impressive given that she has been battling back, knee, and shoulder injuries since late in the 2013 swim season.
“She’s been dealing with injuries for two years now,” McGill Head Coach Peter Carpenter said. “For her to battle through […] and prepare herself physically and mentally to the point where she was able to swim the 400m [individual medley], which is a very difficult event, and win a medal is remarkable.”
The 14 Martlet qualifiers combined for 136 points, finishing ninth overall out of 23 teams competing—falling just short of last year’s performance, where the Martlets finished seventh. The four Redmen at the meet totalled 84 points and matched last year’s performance with a 12th place finish.
Redmen captain Marc-Andre Benoit, a native of St. Hyacinthe, Québec, just missed the podium in three events, coming in fourth in the 50m butterfly (0:25.03), the 100m freestyle (0:51.21), and as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay (3:30.57). Second year psychology student and Toronto native Simone Cseplo came in fifth in the 50m backstroke, finishing in 30.19 seconds, beating her personal best by 0.41 seconds. This came after last year’s CIS National Championships, after which she went home with a silver medal in the same event.
The meet featured a number of standout performers, including UBC senior Coleman Allen. Allen, the reigning CIS Swimmer-of-the-Year, set three CIS National records in the 50m, 100m, and 200m butterfly, winning gold in all three events to go along with another gold in the 4x200m freestyle and a silver in the 4x100m medley.
On the women’s side, rookie Katerine Savard of the Montréal Caranoms earned Rookie-of-the-Year after claiming a whopping seven total gold medals in the 50m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x100m freestyle, and 4x200m freestyle.
UBC Thunderbirds Head Coach Steve Price was awarded men’s Coach-of-the-Year, with Université de Montréal’s Pierre Lamy winning the honour for women’s coaching. The Carabins came in second among women’s teams with University of Toronto rounding out the podium in third. On the men’s side, Toronto and the University of Calgary came in second and third place, respectively.
Moving forward, Carpenter is excited about the talent and energy that next year’s class of rookies will bring to his squad.
“There are a number of good recruits who have shown interest, and if we get a good number of them then things are going to look up, both on the guys and the girls side,” Carpenter said.
Both the Redmen and Martlets are expected to lose just three seniors each to graduation, setting the stage for an even stronger showing at next year’s Nationals with a more experienced, but still youthful team.