C/O Serena Repice Lentini (Unsplash)
One podium, numerous medals: A wrap-up of the recent OUA swimming championships
As the school year nears completion, many varsity teams would have been expected to finish off their season and dive into their post-season period. However, the Marauders swimming team just started off their season midway through March. From March 10 to March 14, the Marauders competed in the Ontario University Athletics championships.
Although not much has been heard about their season thus far, the swimmers were ready to impress and do their best in their races, and indeed, they did impress.
The OUA championship was hosted by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Although the championship format stayed the same, this year the OUA’s would solely include the final races, excluding the qualifiers and preliminaries. The Marauders still had plenty of swimmers with impressive results on the first day of the competition.
Starting off on the first day with the women’s races, the 200-metre free relay featured Cindy Shu, Heather Aylward, Leah Russell and Hiva Fazeli. The four Marauders swam with a final time of 1:46.17, which earned them a silver medal to start off the competition.
Capturing the second and third medals of the day for the Marauders were Sarah Little and Emma Schlyter. Little earned a bronze for finishing with a time of 1:02:33 in the women’s 100-metre butterfly, while Schlyter also earned a bronze with a time of 4:52.32 in the women’s 400-metre individual medley.
As the day continued, more women’s marauders gathered points, which awarded the women’s team with third place overall, scoring a total of 164 points. The only two teams ahead of them were the Varsity Blues and Western Mustangs, with 386 and 230.5 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, there were also some impressive races on their first day. The most notable, was the 400-metre Medley Relay, which featured Colin Campbell, Cameron Johnsen, Bijan Ziaian and Josiah Terejko. Although they missed out on the podium, the quartet managed to achieve a relatively strong time of 3:49.07, which narrowly stood short of third place.
In terms of the best individual men’s result, Kevin Ireland managed to place as high as fifth in the men's 400-metre individual medley, earning himself a time of 4:37.55. Although he missed the podium, this race proved to be important for the team to regain some key points as they fought for fourth place in the championship.
By the end of the first day the men’s team claimed the fourth position with a total of 138 points. The teams in front of them were the Varsity Blues, Waterloo Warriors and the Mustangs, with 342.5, 234 and 176.5 points, respectively.
On days two and three of the competition, the women’s team further impressed with their podium finishes throughout. The first two medals came in way of the 50-metre butterfly and 800-metre free relay. The 50-metre butterfly awardee was Sarah Little, who achieved a time of 27.89, earning herself a bronze medal. The second bronze medalists were Maeve Bailey, Andie Lloyd, Emma Schlyter and Erin Anderson, who achieved a time of 8:32.27 in the 800-metre free relay.
The other two podiums achieved by the women’s team came on day three, with Schlyter earning her third podium of the championship tournament after winning a silver in the 200-metre individual medley with a mesmerizing time of 2:17.86. Schlyter was hungry for more. She continued her medal streak by coming out with the team’s last — and her fourth — medal of the championship for the 400-metre free relay, achieving a time of 3:53.11 to take home her third bronze.
On the men’s side, the only podium finishes that were picked up on the second and third days were by Campbell, Johnsen, Ziaian and Terejko, who achieved an impressive silver medal finish in their 200-metre medley relay with a time of 1:43.25. As for the rest of the team, numerous swimmers worked hard to pick up additional points for the Marauders in the hopes of retaining the fourth place from day one.
Overall, the OUA championships ended with both teams capturing a top-five spot. After three days of competing, the women’s team grabbed third place with 583 points, whereas the men's team achieved fourth place with 356.5 points. Though this was only a regional tournament, the Marauders also received an invitation to the U Sports championships, taking place in Montreal.
Since 1978 there have only been three teams to record a Men’s National Championship title.
This past weekend, the McMaster swim team set a new record amongst the rankings placing fourth among the elite three school’s only one spot behind UBC, Toronto and Calgary which took the top spots.
In a competition housing more than 28 teams from across the country, McMaster placed amongst the most elite schools in the nation and Head Coach Andrew Cole could not be more proud of his young team.
“It’s pretty exciting, to finish off the season on such a high note,” Cole said.
“McMaster swimming has a wonderful history of athletes competing on an international level,” he added.
“For us to finally be competitive on the national stage where were pushing against some of the top team’s in the country is great.”
With some Olympians competing over the weekend and going home empty handed, McMaster was proud to have 21 of their 25 swimmers score big for the maroon and grey.
McMaster’s own Cameron Bailey gave McMaster a medal in the competition being the first man to break the two minute barrier in the 200 individual medley and also played a huge role in the success of McMaster’s 4x100 m medley relay which helped McMaster place fourth in the competition and eighth overall for the all-time fastest performance in the country.
This year it was a strong Marauder force which broke records in the 4x50 m medley relay as a team consisting of Eric Anderson, Konrad Bald, Mohamed Eldah and veteran Matthew Vogelzang grabbed the fastest time in Canada, and the fourth fastest all-time performance in Canadian history.
The women also impressed as they took the third spot in Canada winning the Ontario Championships by more then three seconds thanks to the commending efforts of Kieren Liew, Alex Vanommen, Sarah Taylor and Emily Fung.
Bald also grabbed a bronze in the 50 m breast stroke coming just two weeks after he won gold in the 50 m and 100 m events and a silver in the 200 m at the Ontario Championships.
Rookie sensation Eric Anderson had an outstanding performance over weekend, swimming a lifetime- best performance in all of his events. After taking some time off from swimming and transferring from the University of Denver Anderson surprised everyone by breaking his own personal bests on the season despite being absent from swimming for a number of years.
With many firsts coming for McMaster and many names dropped as key members of the weekend’s success there is one swimmer in particular that really stood out to Coach Cole.
“From an improvement perspective a first year by the name of Martyn Siek really stands out to me,” said Cole.
“He had an outstanding year and his improvements since our start in the fall were un-parallel.”
With growth and development shown from Martyn Siek over the course of the season, Coach Cole has a strong team of veterans to thank for everything they bring to the table for the rookies.
“I think really we had a very young team and even some athletes who had incredible experience behind them who helped to teach the younger one’s how to compete at this level was something that was critical,” said Cole.
“A guy like Martyn took an interest in what they were teaching and learning and had noticeably the greatest improvement. It was really an effort across the board from every member on the team to get these kind of results.”
To round out the stellar team combined performance was the men’s 4x100 m freestyle relay event. Cameron Bailey, Eric Anderson, Marc Muise and Matt Vogelzang all swam to 50 second or less splits making it the fourth fastest time in the country to date.
With a successful season coming to a close, Coach Cole knows it’s all about the athlete’s who are willing to go the extra mile that is going to be a key factor in the team’s future success.
“This upcoming year is going to come down to who is going to do the best job,” said Cole.
“In the coming week’s we have the Commonwealth games trial and then we have the Summer National Championships in July in Saskatoon and it’s really going to come down to who is going to step up to the plate and who is really going to commit to performances at these events,” he added.
“From this we will hopefully be able to catapult on to even better performances next year.”
Whenever a coach experiences an underdog season victory, it is important for them to evaluate the ups and downs in order to pinpoint the elements that made their unit successful.
Coach Cole is aware that with every positive there will be negative’s and that perseverance is the key to any team’s success.
“As with any sport you’re going to have highlights and challenges and its one thing to feel great when you’re on top but the key element to any successful athlete or team whether its at an OUA level, provincial level, city level or the Olympics is perseverance,” said Cole.
“As an athlete you really have to be mentally tough and it’s about belief and perseverance. If we’re going to be successful and truly challenging some of the very best in the country and in the world we have to continue to push that envelope.”