The Dinos swim team have made quite a splash in recent years. As defending CIS champions in both the men's and women's events, the expectations for this season are high. This weekend at the CW swimming championships the Dinos lived up to these expectations as a number of strong individual performances led the team to take second place in both team events.
UBC led the men's side of the competition the entire weekend and finished first with 926.5 points. The Dinos placed second with 703.5 points and Alberta's Golden Bears finished third with 529 points.
"We were under no illusions about the men's team," said swimming head coach Mike Blondal. "The men's team has only 12 off a roster of 18 and we knew that we would have a lot of trouble at this meet because the depth of our field wasn't that strong. We have a star studded group of swimmers who will win many medals and swim very well. I mean if you look at the results there's just so many meet records that we set."
At the CW swimming championships the top 16 athletes from a school can score points. Dino Eric Anderson did not compete due to illness.
The women's side of the competition provided far more excitement with the Dinos leading UBC 655 points to 593 points at the end of Saturday. It was not until the end of competition on Sunday that UBC's 1014 points narrowly edged out the Dinos' 999 points. Victoria rounded out the podium with 349 points.
"The women's side -- we thought we were going in pretty heavy favourites to win," said Blondal. "We lost a number of points from injury and we had a couple of swimmers going to the meet maybe a bit too tired."
The women's side also found themselves with a depleted roster. Jessica Johnson missed the meet due to illness and Erin Wamsteeker suffered a shoulder injury on the first night of competition.
"[The UBC women] were hot and they swam pretty good. The UBC guys, they pushed us right to the edge," said Blondal.
Despite disappointing team results the Dinos saw stellar individual performances from several athletes. Erica Morningstar was named female swimmer of the year, David Dimitrov was male swimmer of the year and Gleb Suvorov was male rookie of the year.
Morningstar captured six gold medals and set two new CW records during the weekend.
She took first in the 50-metre backstroke (28.71 seconds) and 50-metre breaststroke (31.67 seconds) on Friday night. Morningstar set a new CW and world record in the 100-metre breaststroke event with a time of 1:07.02 beating the old one by just eight hundredths of a second and a new CW record in the 200-metre individual medley 2:09.60. Morningstar added gold medals in the 4x100 free relay and the 4x100 medley relay and a silver in the 4x200 free relay.
"On the women's side Erica Morningstar performed strong, as she does, and we had many many step up performances from the girls as well," said Blondal.
Dimitrov took a first in the men's 1500-metre freestyle on Friday night with a time of 15:18.83 beating the old conference record by three seconds in the process. Dimitrov would add to his collection of gold medals in the 200-metre individual medley, 200-metre butterfly and 400-metre freestyle and captained a silver in the 4x100 medley relay.
"Setting meet records and winning four individual golds, [Dimitrov was] just being the hardest working Dino there," said Blondal.
Suvorov came in first in the 200-metre backstroke (1:59.06) on Saturday. On Sunday he finished just one second short of Thunderbird Kelly Aspinall to collect a second place finish and captured a gold medal in the men's 200-metre individual medley (2:01.78) with fellow Dino Bogdan Knezevic coming in 0.22 seconds behind him for second place.
Jason Block dominated the breaststroke events taking firsts in the 100-metre breaststroke (1:01.96), 200-metre breaststroke (2:15.74) and 50-metre breaststroke (28.43).
Seanna Mitchell captured four golds over the weekend. Her first came Friday in the women's 50-metre butterfly with a time of 27.83, a new conference record. She continued to break records on Saturday in the 50-metre freestyle where her time of 25.57 beat Morningstar's old record of 25.67. Teammates Fiona Doyle (25.87) and Bethany Flemington (26.24) joined her on the podium.
Eleven Dinos and 13 Thunderbirds were named to the all-star team.
The Dinos men's and women's teams maintained their number one CIS rankings despite the weekend results.
"It's a different game at CIS, it's a different competition," said Blondal. "It's 32 teams from across the country, so the standard of the meet is way higher and it's way more difficult to score points and so the amount of people we have that are winning medals at this meet should all be scoring points."