McMaster swim team captures eight medals at provincial championships
The men and women place fourth overall in the standings following strong swims at their playoff meet in London
The McMaster University swim team competed at the Ontario University Athletics championships on Feb. 9 to Feb. 11 at the Western Student Recreation Centre in London. Against 10 other participating schools, both the men and women’s teams placed fourth after tallying 512 and 428 points respectively.
On the opening day of the competition, McMaster finished first in the women’s 4x50m free relay race with a time of 1:46.00. Backed by a team of Hiva Fazeli, Michelle Wang, Leah Russell and Heather Aylward, the Marauders set the competitive tone early to capture their first medal of the OUAs.
Following the women’s race, the men also battled their way to the podium for the 4x50 meter free relay, earning the silver medal behind the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The quartet of Cyrus Drabik, Bijan Ziaian, Josiah Terejko and Cameron Johnsen finished the race with a time of 1:31.60.
To finish off their first day, Johnsen swam a time of 1:01.59 to nab the bronze medal in the men’s 100 meter breaststroke. The time was less than a second off of Graeme Aylward and Gabe Mastromatteo from Toronto, who rounded out the podium with times of 1:01.29 and 1:01.05 respectively.
“This year, I felt really lucky that we were back to that environment that we haven’t been in three years, which was the place just being absolutely electric, so loud during the relays that you can’t even hear your own voice. . . That was just awesome,” said Johnsen.
On the next day, Johnsen continued his strong performance with a gold medal in the men’s 200 meter breaststroke. Swimming the race in 2:11.98, Johnsen finished just over half a second faster than the former Olympian, Mastromatteo, who settled for silver with a time of 2:12.51.
The men collected another medal in the men’s 4x200 meter free relay. Max Angove, Trevor Laupland, Kevin Baghdassarian and Colin Campbell finished in 7:36.41 and placed third behind the teams from Western University and Toronto.
To round out their OUA outing, the maroon and grey team collected three more medals on their final day in London.
Johnsen’s dominance carried over into the men’s 4x50 meter medley relay, where he finished in second alongside Campbell, Ziaian and Drabik with a time of 1:41.43. The three-time OUA athlete concluded his spectacular showing by inking the bronze medal in the men’s 50 meter breaststroke.
Aylward, Naeva Scott-Bouris, Andie Llyod and Chelsea Zhou secured the team’s final medal of the competition in the women’s 4x100 meter free relay. Their time of 3:55.26 was good for third place and the race’s bronze medal.
“OUA magic is kind of what we call it on the swim team, which is that feeling of swimming for the team, feeling that electric energy from your teammates on the sideline. . . That’s what turns underdogs into champions and that’s what happened this past weekend,” said Johnsen.
With eight medals across three days, the McMaster men and women teams each finished fourth in the contest overall. The Toronto Varsity Blues finished first in both the men and women’s standings to defend their title as provincial champions.
Among those who represented McMaster, swimmers with qualifying times included Terejko and Johnsen in the men’s 100m breaststroke, Will Clarke in the men’s 50m breaststroke, Maggie Smith in the women’s 50m backstroke and Scott-Bouris in the women’s 400m freestyle.