by Duncan Forbes
The Tigers women’s swimming team was simply dominant this year, and no team in the AUS posed a legitimate threat to them as they went undefeated throughout the season en route to their 14th consecutive AUS championship.
They kicked off their season at the Jack Scholz Invitational, hosted by Acadia in October. They blew away the competition, winning by just over 100 points as they came out of the gate hot. The Tigers posted six individual gold-medal finishes.
They made short work of the rest of the season, winning each AUS meet by a comfortable margin as they looked towards hosting the AUS championship. The Tigers continued to impress in front of their home crowd, and their 466 point performance was more than double their closest competitor. Phoebe Lenderyou set three AUS records in the process, including a 200m IM record that was more than 20 years old.
Keishia Mills, Paige Crowell, Phoebe Lenderyou, Lucy McLeod, Rachel Shin, Katie Webster and all three relay teams found themselves at the top of the podium.
Head coach Lance Cansdale couldn’t have been more proud of his team after their impressive weekend.
“The best thing about the weekend for us was the fact that we came in unrested and unshaven, and we came in and made a lot of personal bests and we raced well,” says Cansdale. “I think it showed the depth of our team and I think it sets us up very well for nationals, which is our primary focus.”
The Tigers then headed to the CIS swimming championship in Victoria, B.C. After a good start to the meet with solid results, the Tigers really turned it on the third day of competition and they came away with a huge fifth-place finish nationally. Fifth-year graduate student Meagan Bernier grabbed all the headlines with a gold medal performance in the 800m freestyle. Coach Cansdale says that her performance is a good indication of the direction the program is headed.
“It is a great privilege to have coached such a talented athlete. I, along with coaches Fry, MacDonald, Andrews and Maszko, have seen her confidence grow to realize the potential that she has always had,” says Cansdale. “There is also a growing confidence in our overall program and the belief that we can be the best in the nation.”
Phoebe Lenderyou had four individual top eight performances including fourth in the 50m, fifth in the 100m, and sixth in the 200m backstroke events, in addition to seventh in the 100m butterfly. Katie Webster and Alison Grant finished fifth and eighth in the 800m freestyle. Dal’s medley and freestyle relay teams also found success at nationals, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
Meagan Bernier was named the AUS swimmer of the year for the second consecutive year and Phoebe Lenderyou was selected as the AUS rookie of the year. Lance Cansdale was named the AUS coach of the year for the third consecutive season.
And with the team’s stellar finish, Cansdale says that team morale is higher than ever.
“It is high after both the high finishes and the great individual results,” notes Cansdale. “The team this season has been a very close group and really pushed and pulled each other to good times and fantastic results. They trained fast and really displayed a discipline in both the pool and the classroom.”