Swimmers a splash away from winning CI’s

The legacy continues.

Last weekend, the Dinos swim team sent a contingent to the University of Guelph for the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships. They went with high hopes, and for good reason: University of Calgary swimming has a tradition of excellence, and this year’s squad is no exception.

The men’s team sent 11 members, ranked second in the country, aiming for a first- or second-place finish. The women’s team sent seven swimmers, with a third-place ranking, but hopes to end up in fifth.

After three days in the water, the men wound up second with 515 points, second to the University of British Columbia’s 570 points, but light years ahead of the third-place team, the University of Victoria (307). The women’s team used an astounding Sunday performance to move from fifth place to third, their 433 only 1.5 points back of the University of Victoria Vikes.

"As individuals and as a team we swam really well," summarized head coach Mike Blondal. "The men were closer to UBC than they thought they’d be, and further ahead of UVic. The women thought fifth would be good, but if they had won the last relay, they would have been second."

The women finished 0.5 seconds off in that relay.

Blondal named a plethora of swimmers who had outstanding performances in Guelph. Joe Melton, Julia Wright, Josh Ballem, Garth Coxford, Megan Kinsella and Jane Mikoultchik were among them.

"Allison Zwarich continued to improve," he added. "She had her best swim meet in about two years."

Zwarich, like the rest of the Dinos women’s team, is in her first year of varsity swimming, but Blondal has been able to observe her at the club level in the past.

Carrie Burgoyne is another Dino who has had an outstanding year in the pool, and she wrapped it up with some excellent performances in Guelph.

"I’m pretty happy, I guess," Burgoyne conceded. "I had one [personal] best time, and my other swims were pretty good. I hope they set me up for [club] nationals."

The captain of the men’s team, Joe Melton, was satisfied with his team’s showing, and with his personal times.

"The men’s team did really well," he pointed out. "Pretty much everyone did their best. Everyone stepped up and raced really well. It’s always nice when everyone does a good job."

Melton pointed out the performances of Ballem and Dinos veteran Bo Simpson as highlights of the meet.

"It was [Simpson’s] final CI’s," Melton noted. "He’s been a strong swimmer all of his five years. He’s always scored at CI’s. It’s too bad he’s graduated."

As for his own races, Melton didn’t surprise himself, but he was pleased.

"I’m pretty happy with the weekend," he said. "I pretty much did what I hoped for. I didn’t shave, so I wasn’t quite peaked, but I still swam well."

For Blondal, who has led the team to a number of national titles in the past, there were no disappointing performances.

"We were sitting down last night and we said that there were no stinker swims," he said. "There were a few disappointing disqualifications, but they were only disqualified because they were trying hard. It was one of the best performances at CI’s in years. Now we need more numbers and better recruiting."

The CIAU championships were hardly the end of the swimmers’ season. Because all the varsity swimmers are also members of the club, they are now gearing up for club nationals, which happen this weekend.

"Nationals are bigger [than CI’s]," said Burgoyne. "There are more swimmers, and all the clubs in Canada are there."

This year, many top CIAU swimmers are taking the varsity season off to concentrate on the Olympics, so the field at last week’s meet wasn’t quite as strong as it has been in the past. Most of those swimmers will be at club nationals, though, including the U of C’s Curtis Myden and Joanne Malar.

"The competition is usually a little tougher," added Melton. "Hopefully we can win the team title. We have a large, strong team."

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