McGill’s swimmers took to the Memorial Pool this past weekend in the second leg of the Coupe de Quebec. The Redmen and Martlets placed second overall, behind the juggernaut program from Université de Montreal.
Senior Pierre-Alexandre Renaud, a captain for the Redmen, garnered male Swimmer-of-the-Meet honours to follow up on the two gold medals he won at the first leg in Trois-Rivieres. In addition to this, Rhys Johnson and Sami Eid won silver and bronze in the 200m backstroke with times of (2:10.03) and (2:10.70) respectively.
Renaud has been pleased with his campaign so far but realizes that there will be challenges ahead.
“[It’s a] good start for my last year at McGill. It will be a tough year this year because of Université de Montreal and Laval, [as] they both have good teams,” he explained.
The Redmen are navigating a tough season following the loss of last year’s McGill Athlete-of-the-Year and CIS All-Canadian Steven Bielby. Consequently, Renaud has had to assume a new role in and out of the pool.
“Because it’s my last year, I feel a little bit more pressure,” Renaud said. “I feel like I need to set a good example for the rookies so that’s why I’m trying to do my best every race.”
Despite Bielby’s departure, coach Peter Carpenter says that the team is performing very well and has been buoyed by a strong group of freshmen.
“We have a lot of very good rookies in, we’re replacing him by committee,” explained Carpenter. “Ultimately we’re doing just as well provincially without Steven as we did with him last year.”
The Martlet squad is being led once again by reigning RSEQ Swimmer-of-the-Year, Katie Caldwell. The sophomore won two silver medals in the 400m individual medley (4:53.18) and the 800 freestyle (9:02.84,) while also winning gold in the 4x100m Individual Medley relay. Caldwell said she believes that she cannot rest on those laurels and must continue to strive for excellence while highlighting team goals.
“Last year was a good year, and I would like to redo that in some way, [with] either times getting faster or positions getting better […] but there is still a lot of work left to do,” Caldwell said. “I just love being here as a teammate and cheering everyone on […] so as a team if we can improve either at provincials or at the CIS level I think that would be the better accomplishment.”
Caldwell is also dealing an increased role out of the pool, similar to Renaud, and has experienced new expectations as a leader on the team.
“It’s definitely changed this year,” she said. “I didn’t really know anyone on the team last year, [so I’m trying] to get a really good group of rookies [to be] part of the family [early on]. I love being a leader and taking that [role] and getting the team [ready] for every meet.”
In addition to Caldwell, Valerie DeBroux won silver in the 100m Breastroke (1:13.79). DeBroux, a junior, also worked with Caldwell to earn gold in the team relay. Like the Redmen, the Martlets have been energized by a strong group of first-years who have shown progress in the season so far.
“[Our squad has] a lot of good rookies. Simone Cseplo stepped up today and progressed from the last meet, [and] Fanny Gervais-Cartier also did a really good job today,” Carpenter said. “Our veterans are still getting the job done and I’m really happy [of] where the team is right now.”
Both squads have a busy season ahead, in which they will be doing all they can to get swimmers qualified for the CIS championships. They begin this journey by traveling across town to Université de Montréal for the third leg of the Coupe de Quebec on Nov. 9.