On Oct. 28 at the McGill Sports Complex, passersby heard the McGill swim team’s deafening cheers from the Memorial Pool, where the season’s second RSEQ University Cup was being held. The McGill Redmen clinched a tight victory, while the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins’ women splashed ahead of the Martlets. McGill ended the day in second place overall.
Despite juggling swimming and midterms, McGill’s swimmers managed to thrive at Saturday’s meet. Second-year Will Simpson won one gold and two silver medals, and fourth-year Jessica Warrack captured a gold and a bronze. Samuel Wang, a second-year Biochemistry major, reigned victorious in four events—the 4x100m medley, 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and the 4x100m freestyle. He is aiming for the U Sports Nationals at the end of the season.
“Meets like these are definitely stepping stones towards that goal,” Wang said. “To be doing very well in the season is a good sign.”
The team’s newcomers also contributed to McGill’s success at the meet. Bradley Crocker, currently in the first year of his master’s degree, walked away with two golds. First year Bailey Mothe got third place in the 400m medley. Other rookies to look out for include Cecile Wiederkehr and Joseph Perry. McGill Head Coach Peter Carpenter praised the exceptional rookies.
“We have third- and fifth-year students joining the team for the first time,” Carpenter said. “Everywhere you turn you find rookies doing well and scoring points.”
Alongside the thrilling races, the home team’s spirit took centre stage. Swimmers slapped the edges of the pool to cheer their teammates on, and the roar of “Let's go Redmen” made it difficult for spectators to carry on conversations on the pool deck. According to the swimmers, the team atmosphere provides the base for their success in the pool.
“We all come from different backgrounds, but when we come here we're basically a family,” Wang explained.
Sarah Mehain, a fifth-year student who competed in the 4x100m medley, also recognized the importance of her teammates’ constant support—her favourite part of the team.
“The atmosphere,” Mehain said. “It’s really supportive and pumped up at swim meets.”
Similarly, Taryn Pratt, a first year who swam in four events, found that the cheering created a positive atmosphere that encouraged success.
“Although swimming is an individual sport, the whole team is right behind you lifting you up,” Pratt said.
McGill swimming has set a direction by creating collective goals for the season. The team is aiming for three-quarters of the swimmers to qualify for the U Sports National Championships at the end of February. But the goals aren't just limited to the pool: In terms of academics, the Martlets are aiming for a collective 3.0 GPA.
Despite the high academic bar and a full slate of work in and out of the pool leading in, Carpenter was thoroughly impressed by his team’s strong performance.
“Traditionally, the period between Cup 1 and Cup 2 is the hardest for our swimmers, since it comes after completing weeks of midterms,” Carpenter said. “Our first meet went very well, so we set a high bar […] but this is the best Cup 2 meet we've had by far.”
Indeed, McGill swimmers showed no sign of midterm fatigue and displayed inexhaustible energy throughout the day. As the team behind him roared in support of those in the water, the coach beamed. Looking toward the rest of the season, Carpenter explained that technical skills would be his major focus. These include the swimmers’ walls, kickoffs, and starts. As for McGill’s biggest strength, Carpenter gave one word—depth.
"McGill [scores] more fifth, sixth, seventh places by far,” he said. “[At] the end of the day, it helps a lot."
McGill will head to Outremont as the UdeM Carabins host the third leg of the University Cup on Nov. 25.
Moment of the meet
The pool deck exploded with cheers as second-year Will Simpson made his final stretch for silver in the 200m backstroke.
“They have every reason to be tired, but the spirit is lifting everyone up. I’m very proud of them.” – McGill Head Coach Peter Carpenter
Samuel Wang topped the medal board with four golds—the 4x100m medley, 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and the 4x100m freestyle.