McGill Swimming excelled in their first meet of the season on Oct. 26. The men’s team came first of the six teams competing, while the women took second. McGill finished second overall, only 37 points behind Université de Montréal (UdeM).
The meet is McGill’s only home competition of the season; it was originally scheduled to be the second contest of the year, but the Oct. 11 clash at the University of Ottawa was postponed. The change in schedule did not hurt McGill’s effort though, as the team held an in-house time trial in its place, competing against themselves for extra practice.
“We raced the events that [the team] did today two weeks ago, so then they got a chance to do it again, and I think that probably helped us,” Head Coach Peter Carpenter said.
McGill’s performance is even more impressive considering several swimmers on both the men’s and women’s rosters were unable to participate.
“We had a bit of adversity to overcome,” Women’s Team Captain Isabella Pittinger said. “But, we were still able to finish strong, and not only strong, but we also had a lot of best times on both sides.”
The team stayed focused on their own races and their strategy paid off. The men’s 4x50m freestyle relay came within 0.24 seconds of the RSEQ record, and McGill swimmers qualified for the U Sports National Championships in eight events. Among the qualifying athletes was second-year Clement Secchi, who was also named the Men’s Athlete of the Meet.
McGill’s athletes leveraged their familiarity with the home pool to the fullest.
“We know the walls better than anyone,” Men’s Team Captain Kade Wist said. “So we have that advantage. [With the starting] blocks, [it’s the] same thing.”
Carpenter believes that the home advantage was even greater at this meet than in previous seasons.
“I think it actually helped us a lot more this year than it has in the past,” Carpenter said. “We got new blocks this year, and that [makes a huge difference] for us.”
However, McGill’s swimmers are not content to sit back and coast. This early in the season, they are still looking to iron out technical issues, so that when Nationals arrive in February, they can focus on fine-tuning details.
Both captains are optimistic about their team’s potential going into the rest of the season, hoping to go farther than they have in 15 years.
“As a team overall, […] we’re looking to win the combined [RSEQ] banner,” Pittinger said. “We’re just trying to remember our purpose.”
McGill’s next meet is an invitational at Dalhousie University in Halifax from Nov. 15-17.
Moment of the Meet
First-year Daphne Danyluk remained steady throughout her 50-metre backstroke, finally pulling ahead to take first in an extremely close race. Her time of 28.86 seconds qualified her for Nationals.
“We have a really strong team this year [….] To be able to produce the results that we did produce this early in the season at our first meet is really impressive, so I think we’re looking pretty good.” – Third-year Women’s Captain Isabella Pittinger on her team’s performance.
McGill athletes held the top three spots of men’s multiple-medal athletes and the number two spot in the women’s competition: Secchi won three gold medals and one silver, first-year Tengbo Yu won two golds and one silver, third-year Marius Collin won two golds and one bronze, and Danyluk won three golds and one silver.