On Feb. 25 and 26, the McGill synchronized swimming team hosted the Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League (CUSSL) Nationals against 14 other universities from across Canada at the Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre. McGill’s novice and expert solo performers came in second in both categories, with scores of 55.1600 and 71.4667 respectively. The novice duet groups also returned victorious, placing first (55.4700) and second (53.4483) in the finals.
Overall, McGill came out on top with 50 points, beating out Ottawa, who came in second with 48 points. This is the 14th championship out of 16 that McGill has won since the beginning of the CUSSL Nationals in 2002.
McGill’s novice and expert teams were left in fifth place after their preliminary rounds on the first day of the competition. However, Head Coach Lindsay Duncan remained optimistic about her team’s chances.
“The year has been great, our practices have been going well, [and] the group is really committed,” Duncan said. “[With] our strongest novice team, we’re hoping for the gold. They’ve been training with that as their focus all year [and] we’re going to do our job, go in there and swim the best we can.”
Indeed, both novice teams came out on top with McGill’s black team—the higher performing novice team—winning gold and the red team—the lower performing novice team—placing third. Their biggest competition was from McMaster University, who managed to slip into second place between the two McGill teams.
“I’ve never given so much energy in one run-through,” freshman Julia Barreau and competitor on the black team said.
The expert team had fierce competition but pulled through and managed to place second with a score of 70.0917, beaten only by the University of Ottawa’s score of 73.6250.
“It’s really emotional for some of us because it’s our last year swimming nationals and swimming synchro ever,” Senior Isaline Nguyen said. “We felt really good about that last swim, it was our best swim of the year.”
The team’s hard work and countless hours of practice clearly paid off.
“We couldn’t have asked for better than first place and third place in novice,” Duncan said. “It exceeded our expectations. And then in the expert category, to move up from fifth in [preliminaries] to second is amazing.”
Stats corner: McGill’s win is the second-closest margin of victory, after the CUSSL Nationals in 2012 where the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) won first place over McGill by one point.
Key moments: The crowd cheered loudest for the McGill teams as they pushed their team members out of the water in a series of flips.
Quotable: “I think the past few weeks we really managed to get together as a team, and the spirit [really] changed since the last competition.” —Senior Isaline Nguyen