Banner season is in full effect with the second weekend in a row of Ontario University Athletics championships. While wrestling had their chance last week, this week was the McMaster Swimming program’s turn to bring home some medals. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues having dominated the year prior, leaving the Championships with multiple banners. This year, the question remained, have they still got it? The marauders looked to challenge the reigning title holders and compete for the number one position. Coming off a strong divisional sweep of the OUA Debray division in the divisional championships, the maroon and grey had good reason to be positive and were hungry to win the OUA championship.
In late November during the Debray division championship, the marauders had a tremendous showing, gaining 49 individual medals and ten spots on top of the podium. This led them to win both the men’s and women’s banners for the OUA Debray division and stack the rafters. Having such strong showings in the last major OUA tournament gave the swim team a lot of confidence going into the OUA championship.
By the end of day one on Feb. 6, it seemed like the Varsity blues were going to defend their champion status with both their men’s and women’s teams on top of the standings. Even with UofT’s day one dominance, McMaster was no slouch. Not only did they come away with medal performances on day one, but our women’s team placed second and the men’s placed third in overall standings.
After a strong showing on day one, day two was marked by a women’s takeover with the marauders earning hardware in a total of five events. They received four bronze medals and a silver to cap off day two action. Unfortunately, this hot streak was not enough to hold onto second place. They fell to third as the University of Toronto stayed red hot and increased their lead by 238 points. We then saw the Western Mustangs propel over McMaster to second place. This left McMaster and Western in an arms race for second overall at the tournament as there is no chance at catching the defending champions on day two, Feb. 7.
Mac has a fighting chance at beating Western because the men's team was only three points behind and the women's team 24 points. However the marauders did pull away with quite a few grabs at the podium on day one with a total of three medals. Cameron Johnsen received a silver for his efforts in the 100m breaststroke, Mike Dereviankin, James Potma, Louis Sharland and Kevin Bagnell received a bronze for 200m freestyle relay and Ian Mackinnon placed with a bronze in the 200m freestyle.
The men’s team collected two total medals on day two, a bronze and a silver which ultimately lead them to remain in third overall. They were three points behind the second place Waterloo Warriors.
What was said for the women’s division is also true for the men’s, as the University of Toronto is a tidal wave in the pool. They are blowing out the competition in men’s as well, as they held their lead of 314.5 points in first place. The powerhouse that is the Varsity Blues leaves teams fighting for a shot at second and third place as first is out of the question.
At the end of the tournament McMaster was unable to bring a banner home. The University of Toronto swept both banners for the seventh time in a row leaving McMaster without the title. However, McMaster came back to Hamilton with several individual awards with Grey Fairley earning the award of coach of the year for leading the team through a strong season and just falling shy of the podium at provincials. Another notable award was Mitchell Muizelaar being acknowledged for his strong efforts all year with an OUA award of distinction.
It was another strong year for McMaster swimming but unfortunately your marauders fell short of the banner for another year.