By Kirk Jessome
Looking to continue their tradition of excellence, the women’s swim team came into the 2018-19 season looking to claim their 18th consecutive AUS banner.
They started their off their season with a win at the Jack Scholz Memorial meet at Acadia, earning 434 more points than their nearest competitor. They followed it up with another win at the Mount Allison Invitational a few weeks later, before hosting the Kemp-Fry Invitational in November.
Over the course of the three-day event, Isabel Sarty, Claire Yurkovich, Reagan Crowell, Olivia Feschuk and Lise Cinq-Mars all secured spots at the national championships with U SPORTS-qualifying times in their respective events. Sarty won four of the five freestyle events and set a new AUS and Dalhousie record in the 100m freestyle. She was also the lead swimmer of the 400m freestyle relay team of Crowell, Cinq-Mars and Yurkovich that set a new AUS and Dalhousie record.
At the end of the meet, the Tigers swam to victory in 11 events to win the event to remain undefeated.
The Tigers put together a fantastic showing at the AUS championship, with Sarty getting things started with a new AUS and Dalhousie record in the 50m freestyle. She also took home gold in the 100m and 200m freestyle events. Crowell had an outstanding meet as well winning three individual events and two relays to be named both the AUS swimmer and rookie of the championship meet. Cinq-Mars, Feschuk and Yurkovich all won two individual events while Alexis Bragman and Victoria MacDonald earned one first-place finish apiece.
They won 15 of the 19 events, including all three relays to win their 18th consecutive AUS championship title, earning 541 more points than second-place Acadia. AUS coach of the year Lance Cansdale says it was exactly the performance he was looking for from his team.
“Emotionally and physically, we were in tune and had a very high percentage of lifetime-best swims,” he says. “When that happens, the team feeds off each other and then performance becomes expected.”
At the national championships, the Tigers showed where their depth was an asset, with two relays finishing in the top 10. Individually, the team got a few strong performances from Cinq-Mars who was seventh in the 100m and 10th in the 50m butterfly events. Sarty also had strong swims in the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle races to help her team to a 12th place finish at the championship.
“I feel like our U SPORTS placing was a bit below our goal,” says Cansdale, “But the points between sixth and 12th were the difference between a few small outcomes, so in reality, it was closer than it seemed.”
Looking ahead to next season, the focus will be on the transition from AUS competition to the national stage in order to move back up in the national rankings.
“We have the confidence at home, as we saw in the Kemp-Fry, but lost our momentum when we got to nationals. I believe that with a few adjustments going into next season we will move back into the top 10.”