The University of British Columbia hosted the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship for the first time in 11 years last weekend. The events of the three-day national championship left the University of Calgary Dinos swim team coming up short, second overall to the host team. The long running rivalry will have to wait one more year, when the title of "national champion" comes up for renewal once again.
Prior to last weekend’s meet, Dinos Head Coach Mike Blondal knew the competition would be huge. And Rick Say had a feeling that UBC would probably reign supreme.
"Every one of us would have had to have amazing swims and they would have had to swim average for us to beat them."
This is because UBC has more internationally-ranked swimmers fuelling their team, or as Blondal puts it, "their bench is deeper than ours."
How did the Dinos perform overall? Blondal was happy with his team’s performance but believes that they could have done better. Some individual performances boosted the Dinos standings on the weekend. Say, the Dinos’ token Olympian and 2001 CIS swimmer of the year, defeated UBC’s Mark Johnston by fractions of a second in the 400 m freestyle.
"It was a game of catch up until the end," said the Olympian. "Then it became a mental battle of who was going to touch the wall first."
He proceeded to set a new CIS record in the 100 m freestyle with a time of 0:49.17, bettering the previous record by over one 10th of a second. His total medal count came to four golds. Ironically, despite his amazing performances Say did not feel well prepared for the meet.
"I showed up to race and support the team but I’m saving myself for [Canadian] Nationals in March."
Michael Powers also proved that hard work does pay off. He surprised himself when he won the 200 m backstroke with a time of 1:59.95, shaking over a second and a half off of his previous personal best.
"He learned how to win and in his next race he is going to have to remember how he did that," pointed out Blondal.
At this level of competition it is a rare event when a swimmer takes that much time off their personal best. When all was said and done Powers left the meet winning the 200 m backstroke, placing third in the 100 m backstroke, eighth in the 200 m freestyle and 10th in the 400 m freestyle.
The 2001/02 season was a successful one for the Dinos and the CIS meet was a showcase of their potential. With a strong base of swimmers, the Dinos should continue to represent the University of Calgary as a dominant force in the pool.