By: John Mignelli- Assistant Sports Editor
The 2014 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) swimming championship wrapped up on February 8 at the Brock University Walker Complex with the University of Toronto being the talk of the tournament. Running from Feb. 6 and concluding on Feb. 8 in the Eleanor Misener Aquatic Centre, the event saw an astonishing 12 OUA records broken.
Tasked with much of the behind-the-scenes duties of running such a grand tournament, Brock assistant athletic director Chris Critelli was the Convenor of the tournament.
“We’ve hosted before… The last time was in 2010. Every three or four years we end up hosting [and] we even hosted the CIS National Championships one year, so you’re [dependent] upon all of the volunteers and when you’ve hosted a few times, those volunteers fall into place and they do a fabulous job.” She also added, “There is not a lot of change and turnaround in coaches so they know what is going on. Once you put it all together, it really runs itself. And of course the excitement of the competition is what it is all about, watching them swim.”
Despite the event being held in Brock’s own pool, the Badger swim team did not perform exceptionally well. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed ninth out of 11 teams participating in the tournament. The only athlete to earn a top-three finish for Brock was freshman Rachel Nogard (Hamilton, Ont.) who finished third in the women’s 200-meter fly competition.
Asked about the impressive season Nogard has had so far, swimming coach Peter Bradstreet said, “She’s been very impressive. She’s a good worker, committed, and she deserves it.” Nogard also finished third in the women’s 200-meter butterfly competition at the Ontario Cup in January.
On day one of the event, five OUA records were set. The McMaster 200-meter men’s relay team broke the OUA record with a time of 1:40.31, and Western’s women’s 400-meter free relay team set a new record as well. Also breaking records were Konrad Bald (Beamsville, Ont.) of McMaster, Alisha Harricharan (Brampton, Ont.) of Guelph, and Zack Chetrat (Oakville, Ont.) of Toronto.
Day two saw two OUA records beaten, with Paige Schultz (Toronto, Ont.) of Toronto, Emma Sproule (Calgary, Alb.) of Western, and Harricharan of Guelph again setting the OUA record for the women’s 50-meter fly.
On the third and final day of the competition, Nogard was able to make Brock proud as she earned Brock’s sole medal. Record breakers of day three were Vanessa Treasure (Mississauga, Ont.) of Toronto, and Paige Schultz again.
Toronto was the toast of the tournament, winning both the men’s and women’s provincial championships. For the 11th straight time, the Varsity Blues men’s team were crowned provincial swimming champions. This victory is a record 62nd title for the men’s team, while the women captured their 25th title.
Toronto coach Byron MacDonald was quoted saying, “Winning is never easy and it’s taken the women six years to get back on top of the OUA… I am especially pleased as the women have been a bit in the shadow of the men’s drive for their second national title, but now the women have a banner to boast too.”
Not only did Toronto win the team championships, but they also cleaned the house with the awards presented at the event. Treasure and Chetrat were named the female and male swimmers of the year respectively, and MacDonald and Linda Kiefer of Toronto were named coaches of the year.
Hochan Ryu (Richmond Hill, Ont.) of Toronto was named the male rookie of the year. Swimmers outside of the University of Toronto winning awards were Caitlyn Hodge (Montreal, Que.) of Ottawa winning the female rookie of the year award and Cameron Bailey (Hamilton, Ont.) of McMaster winning the “Dr. Jeno Tihanyi Award for Individual Medley Excellence”. Treasure won the women’s version of this award as well.
In addition to these awards, there was also a presentation for the “Graduating Athlete Award of Distinction” which was claimed by four female swimmers and six male swimmers.
Concluding the swimming season is the CIS National Championships, which will be held from Feb. 20-22 at the University of Toronto.