Swimmers take gold

After last weekend’s Canada West Swimming Championships at the U of C, the pool seems a little bit different. Is the water cleaner? Is the deck bigger? No, but the presence of a sweeping Dinos victory fills the air, and soon, a championship banner will fill space on the wall. For the swimmers, it may as well have been at an Olympic swimming pool.

“It doesn’t even feel like the same place we come to everyday,” said Dena Durand, a third year U of C swimmer who took gold in the 200m Breaststroke.

Both the men’s and women’s teams captured first place and beat out six other Canada West universities, notably their longstanding rivals the UBC Thunderbirds, who deprived the Dinos of the men’s and women’s Canada West Championship titles

every season since 1997.

“It would be great to win the championship at home,” remarked Chad Murray earlier on in the meet. His confidence stemmed from team unity; “the whole team is stepping up to the plate.”

Even daunting Jurassic Park banners played a part in the intimidation factor–large dinosaurs tearing strips off little birds crushed any challenge by the other teams’ paraphernalia.

Great performances by Michael Power and Murray helped the men’s team outdistance its tough competitors. Murray won the 200m and 400m Individual Medley, although he only placed fourth in the 200m Butterfly. The Thunderbirds obviously didn’t give up without a fight. Although Murray was too excited about the team’s win to give it much thought, he remarked of the struggle; “they came out of nowhere and swam incredibly fast.”

Last year’s team captain and fifth year veteran Power took the gold in 100m Backstroke, while younger teammates such as Cameron Hyder and Richard Cormack rose several times to the bronze and silver metal podium. With a final score of 701.50, the Dinos men outswam the second place Thunderbirds by 82 points.

“We have a very strong team this year,” boasted Head Coach Mike Blondal. Adding to the fact that UBC was missing two of their top swimmers who were competing elsewhere, Calgary’s men’s team rose to the occasion.

What the men accomplished in the pool, the women matched and exceeded. In a final victory of 868.50 points to UBC’s 755.50, the Dino women dominated the scene. Newcomer Alexandra Lys, a 17-year-old Academic All-Canadian, got her kicks beating her seniors.

“It’s great to take down swimmers in third or fourth year,” she joked, “especially the Thunderbirds.” The inconvenience of not being able to go out to the bar to celebrate with her teammates may come to Lys as an advantage.

Lys, a freestyler, took everyone down in the 100m, and only let two others sneak past her in the 200m and 400m Freestyle. But her elder teammates matched her challenge. Erin Gammel, a carded member of the Canadian National Women’s Swim Team, set a CWUAA record in 100m Backstroke and placed second in the 200m. Carrie Burgoyne rounded up a silver medal in both the 800m Freestyle and the 400m Individual Medley, while the team’s breaststrokers rallied between each other for podium wins. Among them swam Kristy Cameron, who stole the gold in the 100m, but gave it away to teammate Dena Durand in the 200m. Team protege Emma Spooner was not far behind, winning silver in the 100m Breaststroke.

The 400m Individual Medley relay ended the meet’s events in triumph, placing the lady Dinos on the gold medal podium and just 0.28 seconds shy off the CWUAA record.

Voices cheered, drums rolled, and coaches got thrown into the pool. Mike Blondal, a usually dry character, found himself as wet as a whistle without much resistance.

“It was worth it,” he said with a sheepish smile. A long-awaited and well-deserved home victory–wet clothes and all.

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