by Thomas Becker
The Dalhousie Tigers came away big winners, as some of the nation's brightest swimmers competed in Charlottetown at this weekend's 2016 Dave Mills Invitational.
The Tigers won 29 of 36 races, including wins for all four team events.
Dalhousie's Gavin Dyke set a new AUS record in the 200-metre freestyle, clocking in at 1:49.27 and besting a 24-year-old time of 1:49.99 set by UNB's Jason Lukeman in 1992.
In addition to eclipsing an AUS record, Dyke captured four wins at the invitational.
"It was a really great swim for him," said Tigers coach Lance Cansdale. "He's been knocking on that door to break the 1:50 barrier for awhile."
The Tigers had seven swimmers post CIS qualifying times including Dyke, Claire Yurkovich, Tony Liew, Morrgan Payne, Katie Webster and Kaetlin Fenton, who made her first CIS cut.
Joining them was Phoebe Lenderyou, who won all four of her events, capturing CIS qualifying times in the 200-metre individual medley, 200-metre backstroke and 100-metre backstroke.
"We have very good depth this year," said Cansdale. "It's a real young team and the nice thing about it is these kids are getting up and swimming very, very well."
Other standout performances included UNB's Charli LeBlanc, who captured three wins during the two-day meet, posting CIS qualifying times in both the women's 50-metre butterfly and 50-metre backstroke.
Despite a difficult showing from the home team, the rebuilding Panthers managed to set some personal goals as they look toward the future.
Leading the way was Rebekah Nitschman with four top-10 finishes, while Joseph Sulaiman and Callie McAulay managed two each. The 18-year-old McAulay swam for the team's only top-three finish, placing third in the 50-metre breaststroke.
"The kids are slowly starting to make some changes in their approach on swimming and today we succeeded based on times we set out for ourselves," said Panthers coach Tony Theriault.
As the season nears its conclusion, the Panthers are hoping to emulate a strong Dalhousie team that features 33 talented swimmers.
"We've got more swimmers than we had last year, so the plan for next year is to get up to 20 swimmers and develop a strong team atmosphere."