Swimmer Cote nabs CIS rookie honours

For most students, winning a year’s worth of free tuition during a contest at the Crowchild Classic would be the biggest prize won all year. But fresh off a $6,000-plus game of centre-ice beer pong using giant beach volleyballs and garbage cans, first-year swimmer Tristan Cote had bigger fish to fry.

Cote was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s men’s rookie of the year after a dominant first-place performance in the 1500-metre freestyle competition at the CIS finals in Toronto, clocking in at 15:06.02.

“I was going into the meet hoping that I would do well enough to get the award,” said Cote. “But there are a lot of rookies that I’ve been on teams with earlier, and I knew they were really good too. It was a battle, but I was hoping to get it. It was one of my goals.”

Dinos head coach Mike Blondal was pleased with Cote’s performance, and is excited to see where he takes his swimming career.

“He’s a distance swimmer — I would call him a distance animal,” said Blondal. “We’re trying to learn what that means for him, what he’s capable of. He’s going to need to develop more speed to be able to do what he wants to do, and so we’re trying to figure out the balance.”

Cote hails from Mississauga, Ont., and was lured out west by Dinos teammate Bogdan Knezevic, who swims at the same swim club back home in Etobicoke.

“We just started talking about universities in my Grade 12 year, and I knew that he was succeeding at school and in university,” said Cote, “so obviously Calgary was a great choice.”

As a team the Dinos had a good meet at nationals, ranking third in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Highlights included second-year swimmer Russell Wood’s three goal medal performance in the backstroke competitions, while Knezevic won gold in the 200-metre individual medley.

Fourth-year Fiona Doyle also won gold in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke.

“We’d like to be better, but I think that the athletes that we had swam very well, very strong,” said Blondal. “They certainly swam up to or beyond their potential.”

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