University of Calgary

Canadian Interuniversity Sport

February 23, 2011

CIS swimming championships

By Ben Matchett

The CIS swimming championships are this weekend Feb. 24 - 26 at the U of C Aquatic Centre.The CIS swimming championships are this weekend Feb. 24 - 26 at the U of C Aquatic Centre.The University of Calgary Dinos hope home field will be an advantage later this week when they try to defend both Canadian Interuniversity Sport swimming titles for the first time in school history.

The three-day CIS meet, which will feature four Olympians including Canada’s lone Olympic medalist of the past decade in swimming, gets under way on Thursday at the U of C Aquatic Centre with preliminaries starting at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. every day.

The event also kicks off the CIS winter championship season.

Championship website (live results for all sessions and video webcast of finals): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/swim

A year ago in Toronto, the Dinos swept the CIS women’s and men’s team banners for the very first time. It marked a second straight triumph—and the second in history—for the U of C women, while the men were crowned for the second time in three years.

As was the case in 2010 when they finished second to archrival UBC in women’s competition at the Canada West championships before prevailing on the national stage, the Dinos will have their work cut out for them as they hope to maintain their CIS supremacy. UBC travels to Calgary as double conference champion after capturing both Canada West banners at home three weeks ago in Vancouver.

“Last year we had trouble at Canada West as well and we were able to come through, which we’ll hope to do again,” says Calgary head coach Mike Blondal, whose women’s team finished 15 points behind UBC at this year’s Canada West meet. “It’s going to be packed—the pool is going to be full. It’s exciting—I’ve had to settle the kids down a little because usually we’d be in a hotel by now, so they’re going to have to manage themselves in a different way. But it’s going to be great.”

While Blondal figures this week’s women’s race should once again be a two-team affair between the Dinos and Thunderbirds, he expects a wide open competition on the men’s side.

“We have to win medals, plain and simple,” said Blondal on going into the CIS meet with a smaller men’s delegation. “We don’t have a big team, but it’s a strong team. We need to win medals and we need to win relays, and we can’t afford to mess up.”

Highlighting the Calgary lineup for the third season is 2008 Olympian Erica Morningstar. The Regina native was named female swimmer of the meet at the Canada West championships after she claimed six gold medals and one silver in seven events, while shattering a pair of championship records in the process. The former CIS rookie of the year is undefeated in 14 races in two previous appearances at the CIS meet and holds seven national championship marks, including individual records in the 200-metre medley and the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle.

“I think she can do it again, but she’s got some tough swimmers to compete against,” says Blondal. “But Erica could definitely win four individual gold medals again.”

Morningstar will be one of four Olympians competing in the U of C pool this week along with University of Victoria teammates Ryan Cochrane and Stephanie Horner, who also represented Canada in 2008, and University of Toronto’s Luke Hall, who swam for his native Swaziland in Beijing.

Cochrane, a 22-year-old from Victoria, won a bronze medal in the 1500 freestyle in Beijing, marking the first podium for a Canadian swimmer at the Olympics since 2000. He also won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in the 400 and 1500 free races.

Also of note, McGill’s Valérie Grand’Maison, a freestyle specialist, was Canada’s most decorated athlete at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, with three gold medals, a pair of silvers and one bronze. The third-year junior from Fleurimont, Que., who began losing her eyesight at age 12 due to macular degeneration, currently holds world records in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 freestyle events, plus the 400 IM.

As is the case every Universiade year, the CIS championships will serve as a selection event for the World University Games. All individual gold medalists at this week’s CIS meet will automatically earn an invitation to represent Canada in August at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China.

More than 350 swimmers from 28 schools across the country will be in Calgary this weekend. The Dinos are the defending CIS champions in both men’s and women’s swimming and welcome the national championships to Calgary for the first time since 1973.

The 2011 CIS Swimming Championships are Thursday, Feb. 24 to Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the University of Calgary Aquatic Centre – Kinesiology ‘A’ Block.

For more information, visit:
Event website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/swim/index
Live results: http://www.goDINOS.com/CISswimming
Live video webcast (finals only): http://www.ssncanada.ca


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