UBC edges Dino swimmers

The Dinos swim teams demonstrated their prowess in the pool last weekend in Lethbridge, finishing second behind the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in both the men’s and women’s divisions at the Canada West Universities Athletic Association championships.

Traditionally, the T-Birds and Dinos have had the top teams in the country, mostly due to excellent coaching and programs that feed off the national team, which is based primarily in Calgary and Vancouver.

The Dinos men’s team finished with 322.5 points, behind UBC’s 440, but well ahead of the third place University of Lethbridge’s 165.5. The Dino women captured 285 points, slightly behind UBC’s 329, but ahead of the University of Victoria (264).

"The teams swam really well," said head coach Mike Blondal. "It’s a much younger team than we’ve had in many years, so to get as close as we did is very good. Most of them had their best times of the year. They swam with lots of team spirit and came away very positive."

The meet was highlighted by Carrie Burgoyne’s selection as both Canada West and Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union athlete of the week. A first-year Dino, Burgoyne finished first in the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 800m freestyle–setting three Canada West records–and second in the 200m butterfly.

Burgoyne has been swimming seriously since she was 10 years old.

"I enjoyed swimming lessons," she related, "but I wanted to do more than that, so I joined a club." She came to the University of Calgary from Winnipeg, choosing the Dinos program because of its tradition of strength.

"It’s a huge team," she said. "I came here for training a few times last year and I liked it."

As far as the team’s performance went last weekend, Burgoyne was impressed. She noted that the battle came down to the two teams from national team training centres.

"We did well. We were pretty close behind UBC. All their national team swimmers are on the varsity team, but all ours are done school or concentrating on swimming."

Josh Ballen is another young Dino who contributed to the strong finish He finished second in the 50m freestyle, third in the 100m backstroke, fourth in the 100m butterfly, and fifth in the 100m freestyle, in addition to swimming a leg on each of the three relay teams that finished second.

"For the time of year, with no rest, those were my best times," said Ballen. "My free was really on. There was tough competition, so I was pretty surprised. In the backstroke, I haven’t swam it in about a year, so my finish was a big surprise."

The varsity Dinos’ next concern is the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union meet in late February. Blondal, Burgoyne and Ballen agree that the Dinos will be sending a strong squad, but realize that ubc will again be the team to beat.

"CIAU’s will be a little bit different," said Blondal. "We won’t be as deep. Only seven women qualified."

The men’s team is aiming at a top-two finish, while the women are looking for a top-four placing.

"I’m thinking we’ll probably end up second to UBC," added Ballen. "As a team, we’re strong enough to beat the Ontario and Quebec teams."

"I think UBC’s going to be tough to beat," echoed Burgoyne, recognizing the amount of experience on the UBC team. "Our team this year is really young, we’ve got a lot of first years."

Both the men’s and women’s teams at the U of C are ranked
second in the CIAU, behind, surprise, UBC.

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