By Rylie Dobson
This week’s Flashback Friday features the 1999-00 men’s swim team.
Front row (L-R): Sarah Conrad (Manager), Danny French, Nick Graham, Mark Kennedy, Mike Gorman, Scott Sancton, Mike Lockett, Morgan Begg, Jordan Richardson, Ted MacDonald, Bette El-Hawary (Manager).
Back row (L-R): David Fry (Head Coach), Art Drysdale (Assistant Coach), Maciek Gawlik, Marty Laycock, Darek Desaulniers, Mike Dull, Oskar Stachowiak, Chris Stewart, Mike Terauds, Jamie Wildsmith, Rob Coleman, Rob Harrison, Stacey Connick (Manager), Gary MacDonald (Assistant Coach).
The 1999-00 men’s swim team had big shoes to fill. Last year’s AUAA championship had ended in a gold medal, but many of the top swimmers from the previous year had graduated. The current team was made up of exactly 50 percent rookies.
The season started in a heated meet against UNB, the Tigers biggest rivals. Chris Stewart set the tone for his season by breaking the meet record in the 100m breaststroke and qualifying for CIAU’s just one week into regular season competition. Many other Tigers saw success at this meet as well, including Oskar Stachowiak who was the only double event winner at the meet, taking home gold in both the 200m and 400m freestyle swims.
Near the end of the first half, the Tigers continued their streak of dominance at a dual meet against Mount Allison at the Dalplex. The team swept the relay events, setting three meet records in the process. Chris Stewart won the 200m freestyle and breaststoke, while Jamie Wildsmith added the 200m backstroke, Mike Lockett the 200m butterfly and Oskar Stachowiak the 200m IM. Rob Coleman won the 400m freestyle, Mark Kennedy the 800m freestyle and Mike Dull the 100m free to bring the final score to a 73-18 point finish in favour of the Tigers.
At the AUAA Invitational the following weekend, Mike Lockett had the meet of his life and qualified for CIAU’s with his 200m backstroke.
Upon returning from Christmas break, the team immediately returned to a vigorous training routine. The swimmers attended a ten-day training camp in Barbados, and then returned to Nova Scotia to win a meet held at Mount Allison with a score of 65-39.
When AUAA’s came around, the Tigers were ready. They went on to claim the championship with a convincing 100 point margin over the second-ranked UNB team. Jamie Wildsmith turned heads when he won the 400m IM with a six-second improvement over his previous best time. Nick Graham and Marty Laycock made CIAU qualifying times on the last day of the meet. AUAA awards were awarded to Chris Stewart for swimmer of the year, Nick Graham for rookie of the year and David Fry for coach of the year.
Nick Graham, Marty Laycock, Chris Stewart and Mike Lockett headed to Guelph to compete in the national championships. Chris Stewart started the meet by posting a new AUAA record in the 100m breaststroke and scored a second-place overall preliminary finish, but was ultimately disqualified for an alleged turn infraction. Stewart saw redemption in the days following the incident, earning a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke and claiming gold in the 50m breaststroke; Dalhousie’s first gold medal since 1985. Nick Graham finished 12th in the country in the 200m breaststroke event. Overall, the team of four finished 17th out of 30 teams.
Chris Stewart will be inducted into the Dalhousie Sports Hall of Fame this May.