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The UBC Thunderbirds women and men host the championship trophy and banners at the conclusion of USPORT Championships. (Photo courtesy of Rich Lam/ UBC Thunderbirds.)

Last weekend, the best varsity swimmers in Canada stormed into the UBC Aquatic Centre to compete for the title of best women’s or men’s program in the country. It was an intense battle for both the women’s and men’s titles, with the lead being passed back and forth between teams. When the water had calmed, UBC reigned supreme as the penultimate swimming program in the country. The UBC women had claimed the title by only 25 points, fending off a University of Toronto (UofT) program with several gutsy swims in the last night of the competition.

The swimming on the women’s side was some of the best the country had ever seen at the university level. A total of ten U SPORTS championship records were set by the women in the water over the weekend.

Day One

Kylie Masse, who broke the world record in the 100m backstroke in 2017, started the meet with a bang by breaking her own U SPORTS record in the event. She touched in 59.33, celebrating a win for the Toronto Varsity Blues.

Emily Overholt then broke the 400 freestyle record, taking down a four-year record set by her former teammate, Savannah King. She bested the record by almost eight seconds, touching in 4:06.27. Her performance led a UBC podium sweep of the event, with Megan Dalke and Maia Brundage touching second and third, respectively.

The night ended with the UofT breaking the U SPORTS record in the 4x100m medley relay in 4:05.55. This back and forth set the stage between UofT and UBC, who fought for points throughout the meet.

The men broke four records on the first day in the 100 fly (Josiah Binnema, UBC, 52.89), 200IM (Montana Champagne, Ottawa, 2:02.09), 100 backstroke (Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 53.78) and 4x100m medley relay (UBC, 3:41.62).

See the full list of medalists and records below, courtesy of usports.ca

Day Two

The second day of finals began with the UBC Thunderbirds leading the total point, however, the UofT chipped away slowly at the lead throughout the night. Overholt was back in record-breaking form, winning the 200m freestyle in 1:57.26, a three-second drop on the previous mark. Later that night, she broke another record in the 400m IM. Again, she blew the previous record of 4:44.41 out of the water, clocking a 4:40.95.

Masse won the 50 backstroke, winning the Grand Slam title for the third year in a row. The Grand Slam is awarded to the woman who wins both the 50 and 100 backstroke at the U SPORTS championship. Masse was then a part of the University of Toronto relay team that broke the U SPORTS record in the 4x200m freestyle event. That made three records broken for Masse, and three for Overholt at the conclusion of day two.

The men’s side saw Markus Thormeyer from the UBC Thunderbirds break 200m freestyle meet record in 1:48.02. He then joined his teammates to break the 4x200m freestyle relay event record, with the young rookie anchor Brodie Young touching in 7:27.78.

See the full list of medalists and records below, courtesy of usports.ca

Day Three

The final day of the competition saw the UBC women edge out the Toronto Varsity Blues 1255.5 points to 1230.5, and four more U SPORTS records fall for the ladies. Masse completed her sweep of the backstroke events, winning the 200m backstroke in a new record of 2:08.70. Overholt struck back in the records race in the 800m freestyle, putting a gutsy performance together to touch in 8:46.89. However, Masse edged her out on the total number of individual records on the last event, when her team won the 4x100m freestyle relay in an impressive record time of 3:43.90. That made Masse USPORT records, five, Overholt, four. The final women’s record of the day was broken by Kelsey Wog from the University of Manitoba in the 200m breaststroke. She broke a four-year old record of 2:27.63 set by Fiona Doyle in a time of 2:25.50.

The men saw four more records fall on the last day of finals in the 200m fly (Davide Casarin, Ottawa, 2:00.41), 100m free (Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 48.71), 200m backstroke (Markus Thormeyer, UBC), 1500m freestyle (Eric Hedlin, Victoria, 15:34.16), and 4x100m freestyle relay (UBC, 3:23.39).

Kylie Masse won Female Swimmer of the Meet, with her teammate from Toronto, Rebecca Smith winning Rookie of the Meet. The Student-Athlete Community Service Award went to Taylor Snowden-Richardson from the University of Victoria, for her creation of Tay’s Team, an initiative that knits fun character hats for children in the hospital.

This is only the second national championships held under the new U SPORTS organizations of the university swimming league, which was formally designated as Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). There are new changes in the format of the meet that still have swimmers, coaches, and spectators struggling to adapt.

Last year, the officials added ‘C’ finals to the meet, increasing the opportunities for a point-scoring second swims. This change required the top points earned by finishes in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals. For example, this boosted the points won by a first place finish from 20 to 32. This change sought to provide opportunities for swimmers from smaller, less dominant schools to get a second swim. The points overhaul also extended to relays, which used to earn double points, now earn the same number of points as individual wins.

While the changes have pros and cons, where most concerns lie is in the distribution of the total points records. In addition, the racing format has been changed. Traditionally, short course has been the format of the championships, even though the Olympics are held in long course meters. This mirrors the American NCAA championships, which run a 25 yard pool. Now, the U SPORTS championships are ran short course meters (25m) for the morning prelims and long course meters (50m) for finals night. This presents problems for the athletes, who may struggle with short course and miss out on a final, or vice versa and underperform at night. It also presents disconnect with the spectators, who won’t understand the finals they are watching are not based on an equivalent format. There is much to be done to make the competition more accessible to coaches, athletes, and supporters and continue to grow the sport in Canada.

DAY ONE RESULTS

Women 50m Free

  1. Charis Huddle, Western, 25.74
  2. Hoi Lam Karen Tam, UBC, 26.05
  3. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 26.13

Men 50m Free

  1. Alex Loginov, UBC, 23.21
  2. Matthew Schouten, Laurentian, 23.36
  3. Stephen Calkins, Calgary, 23.42

W 100m Back

  1. Kylie Masse, Toronto, 59.33 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Danielle Hanus, Victoria, 1:01.56
  3. Ingrid Wilm, UBC, 1:01.82

M 100m Back

  1. Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 53.78 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Robert Hill, Calgary, 56.27
  3. Anders Klein, Calgary, 56.38

W 50 Breast

  1. Kelsey Wog, Manitoba, 31.80
  2. Hillary Metcalfe, UBC, 32.26
  3. Marie-Laurence Godin, Sherbrooke, 32.47

M 50 Breast

  1. Cale Kooyman, Alberta, 28.81
  2. Matthew Loewen, Western, 28.93
  3. Jonathan Naisby, Sherbrooke, 29.00

W 400 Free

  1. Emily Overholt, UBC, 4:06.27 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Megan Dalke, UBC, 4:15.57
  3. Maia Brundage, UBC, 4:16.48

M 400 Free

  1. Davide Casarin, Ottawa, 3:53.46
  2. Alexander Pratt, UBC, 3:56.92
  3. Peter Brothers, Calgary, 3:57.95

W 100 Fly

  1. Rebecca Smith, Toronto, 59.03
  2. Hannah Genich, Toronto, 59.33
  3. Danielle Hanus, Victoria, 1:00.61

M 100 Fly

  1. Josiah Binnema, UBC, 52.89 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Matt Dans, Toronto, 54.21
  3. Clement Secchi, McGill, 54.64

W 200 IM

  1. Kelsey Wog, Manitoba, 2:13.98
  2. Hillary Metcalfe, UBC, 2:16.87
  3. Georgia Kidd, Toronto, 2:17.79

M 200 IM

  1. Montana Champagne, Ottawa, 2:02.09 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Brian Palaschuk, Regina, 2:02.26
  3. Josh Zakala, Victoria, 2:04.35

W 4 x 100m Medley

  1. Toronto, 4:05.55 (U SPORTS Record & Canadian Club Record) 
    (Kylie Masse, Kelsey Crocker, Hannah Genich, Rebecca Smith)
  2. UBC, 4:08.24
    (Ingrid Wilm, Hillary Metcalfe, Kirsten Douglas, Emily Overholt)
  3. Montreal, 4:18.43
    (Ariane Mainville, Marie-Lou Lapointe, Katerine Savard, Anais Arlandis)

M 4 x 100m Medley

  1. UBC, 3:41.62 (U SPORTS Record)
    (Markus Thormeyer, Jaren LeFranc, Josiah Binnema, Alexander Pratt)
  2. Toronto, 3:47.19
    (Matthew Mac, Graeme Aylward, Matt Dans, Mitch Ferraro)
  3. Calgary, 3:47.59
    (Anders Klein, Benjamin Blackmon, Emil Goin, Stephen Calkins)

DAY TWO RESULTS

Women 200m Free

  1. Emily Overholt, UBC, 1:57.26 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Rebecca Smith, Toronto, 1:59.69
  3. Aleksa Gold, Toronto, 2:01.17

Men 200m Free

  1. Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 1:48.02 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Davide Casarin, Ottawa, 1:49.03
  3. Alexander Pratt, UBC, 1:51.41

W 50m Back

  1. Kylie Masse, Toronto, 27.94
  2. Danielle Hanus, Victoria, 28.78
  3. Ingrid Wilm, UBC, 28.81

M 50m Back

  1. Clement Secchi, McGill, 26.15
  2. Josh Dow, Calgary, 26.18
  3. Robert Hill, Calgary, 26.23

W 100 Breast

  1. Kelsey Wog, Manitoba, 1:08.23
  2. Renae Ledoux, Alberta, 1:10.44
  3. Hillary Metcalfe, UBC, 1:10.60

M 100 Breast

  1. Jonathan Naisby, Sherbrooke, 1:03.98
  2. Benjamin Blackmon, Calgary, 1:04.34
  3. Ruishen Yu, UBC, 1:04.40

W 400 IM

  1. Emily Overholt, UBC, 4:40.95 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Megan Dalke, UBC, 4:48.21
  3. Allison McCloy, Calgary, 4:54.38

M 400 IM

  1. Montana Champagne, Ottawa, 4:24.25
  2. Ambroise Petit, Laval, 4:25.73
  3. Brian Palaschuk, Regina, 4:26.05

W 50 Fly

  1. Rebecca Smith, Toronto, 26.84
  2. Kylie Masse, Toronto, 27.18
  3. Marie-Lou Lapointe, Montreal, 27.20

M 50 Fly

  1. Josiah Binnema, UBC, 24.52
  2. Stephen Calkins, Calgary, 24.71
  3. Matt Dans, Toronto, 24.85

W 4 x 200m Free

  1. Toronto, 8:07.20 (Canadian & U SPORTS Record)
    (Aleksa Gold, Ainsley McMurray, Rebecca Smith, Kylie Masse)
  2. UBC, 8:10.56
    (Emily Overholt, Maia Brundage, Megan Dalke, Ingrid Wilm)
  3. Calgary, 8:19.37
    (Marit Anderson, Allison McCloy, Danica Ludlow, Robyn Lee)

M 4 x 200m Free

  1. UBC, 7:27.78 (U SPORTS Record)
    (Alexander Pratt, Markus Thormeyer, Josiah Binnema, Brodie Young)
  2. Calgary, 7:36.01
    (Peter Brothers, Stephen Calkins, Teddy Kalp, Emil Goin)
  3. McGill, 7:39.35
    (Clement Secchi, Kade Wist, David Brenken, Will Simpson)

DAY THREE RESULTS

Women 200m Fly

  1. Danielle Hanus, Victoria, 2:13.54
  2. Hannah Genich, Toronto, 2:13.77
  3. Megan Dalke, UBC, 2:15.40

Men 200m Fly

  1. Davide Casarin, Ottawa, 2:00.41 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Josiah Binnema, UBC, 2:00.95
  3. Dmitriy Lim, UBC, 2:01.16

W 100m Free

  1. Rebecca Smith, Toronto, 55.45
  2. Charis Huddle, Western, 56.02
  3. Hoi Lam Karen Tam, UBC, 56.22

M 100m Free

  1. Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 48.71 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Davide Casarin, Ottawa, 50.73
  3. Mitch Ferraro, Toronto, 50.94

W 200m Breast

  1. Kelsey Wog, Manitoba, 2:25.50 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Renae Ledoux, Alberta, 2:32.50
  3. Jasmine Raines, Laurier, 2:32.98

M 200m Breast

  1. Jaren LeFranc, UBC, 2:16.41
  2. Jonathan Naisby, Sherbrooke, 2:18.39
  3. Benjamin Blackmon, Calgary, 2:19.17

W 200m Back

  1. Kylie Masse, Toronto, 2:08.70 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Olivia Ellard, UBC, 2:13.75
  3. Ingrid Wilm, UBC, 2:14.51

M 200m Back

  1. Markus Thormeyer, UBC, 1:58.64 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Robert Hill, Calgary, 2:02.93
  3. Anders Klein, Calgary, 2:03.76

W 800m Free

  1. Emily Overholt, UBC, 8:46.89 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Marit Anderson, Calgary, 8:50.17
  3. Megan Dalke, UBC, 8:51.14

M 1500m Free

  1. Eric Hedlin, Victoria, 15:34.16 (U SPORTS Record)
  2. Hau-Li Fan, UBC, 15:34.24
  3. Peter Brothers, Calgary, 15:50.47

W 4 x 100m Free

  1. Toronto, 3:43.90 (U SPORTS Record)
    (Aleksa Gold, Ainsley McMurray, Kylie Masse, Rebecca Smith)
  2. UBC, 3:45.75
    (Hoi Lam Karen Tam, Quincy Brozo, Mackenzie Gunther, Emily Overholt)
  3. Montreal, 3:47.20
    (Katerine Savard, Charlotte Beauchemin, Frédérique Cigna, Ariane Mainville)

M 4 x 100m Free

  1. UBC, 3:23.39 (U SPORTS Record)
    (Alexander Pratt, Josiah Binnema, Araya Therrien, Markus Thormeyer)
  2. Montreal, 3:26.56
    (Vincent Laperle, Antoine Bujold, Vincent Taboga, Antoine Bernard-Lalonde)
  3. Toronto, 3:26.75
    (Bjoern-Ole Schrader, Matt Dans, Ethan Fazekas, Mitch Ferraro)

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