CIS athletes of the year: Erin Gammel and Chad Murray

By Karoline Czerski

Chad Murray: CIS Athlete of the Year

Given the number of time fourth year Olympic hopeful Chad Murray was made to flex his muscles by his cheering teammates, it is no wonder he captured the Male Swimmer of the Year title at the CIS Swimming Championship in Toronto, March 5-7.

It is ritual for Dinos team members to flex after finishing first in a heat or in a final swim at competitions. For Murray, who captured five gold medals at this year’s CIS Championships, flexing should have been second nature.

“I had to push [the muscles] up, because I have no pipes,” recalls a humble Murray, whose flexing had indeed sagged by the end of the meet.

Murray finished first in the 200m individual medley (1.59.77). He also won gold in the 50m butterfly, the 200m butterfly, the 400 individual medley and swam the anchor leg in the Dinos’ first place finish in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.

“The 50 fly was a surprise, I don’t really sprint,” he points out, also mentioning that he was fourth coming in from the morning’s swim. “The 200 I.M. was definitely my best swim, I knew that I had to go below 2 minutes, and I did.”

The competition for Male Swimmer of the Year was quite tight, coming down to a precise number of seconds Murray had to shave off in the 200 I.M. to beat out Michel Boulianne from l’Universite de Montreal.

While the CIS Swimmer of the Year award is based solely on performance at the Championship, Murray has accumulated best times and Canadian standings all year. In true Dino fashion, he attributes his success to his team.

“We have a good group of guys, we train well together,” he adds, and then reflects, “actually, can you change that to ‘the best group of guys’?”

Erin Gammel: Women’s CIS Swimmer of the Year

Gammel quickly takes the mic away from the MC after her 200m backstroke win, and with giddy confidence she starts her victory speech.

“I’d like to thank my teammates (loud cheers from the Dino section), my family, my…” Gammel trails off in a bout of laughter.

The 200m backstroke marked her third gold medal win, and the final achievement of a weekend that earned her Female Swimmer of the Year. Early in the meet, Gammel broke two CIS records, winning gold in the 50m (28.05) and 100m backstroke (59.74).

“I was so surprised!” exclaims Gammel after her first CIS record swim in the Friday preliminaries.

Gammel had just returned from a month of heavy training in Australia with the National Swim team before jumping into the Toronto CIS pool.

“It was some pretty intense training, way harder than anything I’ve ever done,” notes Gammel.

The Swimmer of the Year is a notable achievement, the highest ranking of the fastest varsity women in Canada. It is a great confidence booster to Gammel, who is set to join the National team at this year’s Olympic Games in Athens.

“I’m just happy to know that I did go that fast, it made me proud,” she remarks.

Like her teammate Chad Murray, who won Male Swimmer of the Meet, Gammel attributes this weekend’s achievement to the supportive team behind her success.

“It was a whole combination of things, everyone swam well, we did awesome.”

“It shows what we have on the team level, there is always a huge cheer coming from the Dinos section. We have great team spirit.”

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