Swimmers from eight CW schools – Alberta, UBC, Calgary, Lethbridge, Manitoba, Regina, Thompson Rivers, and host Victoria – will be on Vancouver Island for the three-day championship, which kicks off Friday afternoon and concludes Sunday.
As has been the case the last three conference championships, the UBC Thunderbirds head into the event looking to defend their team titles on both the men’s and women’s side. The U SPORTS swimming powerhouse makes the short trek to Victoria having won the last four CW men’s titles, while the T-Bird women are riding an eight-year run atop the conference.
Along with their Canada West crowns a year ago, UBC also earned U SPORTS team gold, reclaiming their spot atop the national podium after Toronto dethroned the ‘Birds two seasons ago.
UBC, which is home to one of Swimming Canada’s five high-performance centres, boasts a star-studded roster. As has been the case for years, the T-Birds bring Olympic experience to the pool, with several Canadian veterans of the Rio Olympics on the squad.
On the men’s side, Yuri Kisil and Markus Thormeyer bring Olympic and international experience, while Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson and Emily Overholt also have Olympic experience on their resumes. Also, key for UBC will be Ingrid Wilm, who had a remarkable CW championship in 2016 when she set conference records in the 50-metre, 100-metre, and 200-metre backstroke events at Kinsmen Pool in Edmonton.
While UBC is the clear frontrunner in terms of the conference team championships, there will be no shortage of individual competition on display over the weekend.
Five of the eight teams who sent swimmers to last year’s championships in Edmonton earned gold medals, while seven of the eight saw at least one swimmer earn a conference medal.
Along with UBC’s Olympians, Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog is another athlete to watch this weekend. The second-year swimmer enters this season after a standout performance at last year’s CW championships. Wog claimed three conference gold medals in 2016, topping the podium in the women’s 50-metre breaststroke, 100-metre breaststroke, and 100-metre freestyle.
Wog’s times of 30.54 (50-metre breaststroke) and 1:06.30 (100-metre breaststroke) were CW records. In addition to her CW gold medals, Wog also earned conference silver in the 200m breaststroke before going on to capture four U SPORTS medals at the national championships in February.
Overall, last season’s conference championships were particularly impressive, as seven women’s records and four men’s records were broken.
Hanus, who is in her second season with Victoria, is a medal contender in all three backstroke events, while Hedlin is expected to challenge in the freestyle races.
The pair posted strong performances two weeks ago at the Odlum Brown Colleges Cup at UBC, with Hanus finishing second in the 50, 100 and 200-metre backstroke, while Hedlin finished second in the 1500-metre freestyle and third in the 400-metre freestyle.
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA VIKES
2016-17 CW finish: 4th (men’s), 4th (women’s)
2016-17 U SPORTS finish: 7th (men’s), 14th (women’s)
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 0 (men’s); 1979-80 / 1 (women’s)
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: Highest finish – 3rd (men’s in 1999-00) and 2nd (women’s in 1999-00)
Number of competitors: 26 total (18 men, 8 women)
Returning CW gold medalists
Eric Hedlin – 1500-m Freestyle
Key additions (name / event / eligibility / hometown):
Ethan Phillips / 1500-m Freestyle / 1 / Kamloops, B.C.
Ethan Jensen / 100-m Butterfly / 1 / Kamloops, B.C.
Daniel Greer / 100-m Butterfly / 1 / Bathurst, N.B.
San Diego, Calif.
A third-year swimmer originally from San Diego, CA, Eric Hedlin is looking to translate an outstanding 2016-17 season into even more success in 2017-18. Hedlin won a trio of medals at the last Canada West Championships, finishing first in the1 500-metre freestyle, second in the 400-metre freestyle and third 400-metre freestyle relay.
Hedlin also performed well at the 2016-17 U SPORTS Championships where he won gold in both the 400-metre freestyle and the1500-metre freestyle, breaking a 25-year old U SPORTS record in the latter event. The Engineering major was named the UVic Vikes male athlete of the year for his outstanding season.
Tabitha Craig (50,100, 200, 400 freestyle)
Andrea Farmer (50, 100, 200 breaststroke 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle)
Kaitlin Gervais (50, 200, 400, 800 freestyle)
Danielle Hanus (50, 100, backstroke 50, 100, 200 butterfly)
Anna Letkeman (200, 400, 800 freestyle)
Victoria Mock (200 butterfly 800 freestyle 400 IM)
Taylor Snowden-Richardson (200, 400, 800 freestyle)
Kara Wilson (50, 100, 200 breaststroke 50 freestyle)
Colten Craig (50, 100 freestyle 50 butterfly 50 backstroke)
Christopher Deegan (200, 400, 1500 freestyle 400 IM)Zachary Dumas (200, 400 IM 1500 freestyle)
Bailey Espersen (50, 100, 200 breaststroke 100 freestyle)
Arthur Firmino (50, 100, 200 breaststroke 50 freestyle)
Daniel Greer (50 freestyle 50, 100 butterfly 50, 100 breaststroke)
Eric Hedlin (200, 400, 1500 freestyle 400 IM)
Justin Howe (100, 200, 1500 freestyle)
Ethan Jensen (50, 100, 200 butterfly 100 backstroke)
Buzz Mallender (100 freestyle 50, 100, 200 backstroke)
Jon McKay (200 butterfly 200, 400, 1500 freestyle)
Bryce Molder (50, 100, 200 butterfly 100 breaststroke)
Ethan Phillips (400, 1500 freestyle 100, 200 backstroke)
Justin Schramm (50, 100, 200 butterfly 200, 400 freestyle)
Thomas van Maren (200, 400 IM 50, 200 breaststroke)
Richard Weinberger (200, 400 freestyle 200 backstroke)
Josh Zakala (400, 1500 freestyle 200 backstroke 400 IM)
Click here for the complete 2017 CW Swimming Championships preview, including team previews.
Friday, Nov. 24
Session 1 (heats): 4 – 5 p.m.
Session 2 (finals): 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25
Session 3 (heats): 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Session 4 (finals): 5 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 26
Session 5 (heats): 9 – 11 a.m.
Session 6 (finals): 3 – 5 p.m.