The Varsity Reds men’s and women’s swim teams took home 19 medals from the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championships in St. John’s, N.L.
In the last eight years the V-Reds have only come out with a high of 12 medals, and last year only took home eight.
Friday saw six medals for the V-Reds. Fourth year Kaitlyn Young won gold in the 100 m fly and teammate Kate Lantz took the bronze. Rookie Eyad Albassiouny took the silver for 100 m fly in the men’s. Amanda Greene saw silver for the 50 back and Lauren Adam got silver for the 100 breast.
Juliana Vantellingen, Sarah Lynch, Kate Lantz and Jessica LeBlanc nabbed the bronze in the 4×100 free relay.
“Maybe three years ago was the last time we won an event [with women’s] with Danielle Losier,” said head coach Robin Ferdinand. “So Kaitlyn’s win was the first one in three years.”
Six was their lucky number, getting six more medals in Saturday’s events. Albassiouny, Young – who took two – and Adam saw silver in their individual events, and in the women’s 4×200 free relay, LeBlanc, Lynch, Young and Vantellingen took silver. Chris Garcelon got third in the 200 breast, and teammate Lantz took the bronze in the 200 fly.
They couldn’t keep their streak of six medals a day going, but came close on Sunday with five.
Young, Greene and LeBlanc each got bronze and Adam had the only silver for individual events in the 50 breast. The women’s 4×100 relay took another silver for the medley relay.
But the event resulted in more than just medals for the V-Reds. Adam and Vantellingen each qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships on Feb. 22 to 24. They are joining Albassiouny and Young who qualified for the event a few weeks prior.
“They qualified about 10 minutes apart, so that was crazy,” said teammate Brandon Warren. “I had to calm myself down. I was probably more excited for their races than I was for mine.”
If a team has three of one gender going to nationals – in this case, three women – CIS regulations allow them to bring one more woman to round off the relay team. Greene, who just missed the CIS qualifying time, will also be joining the V-Reds at nationals.
“I think it’s going to be a really good experience for her,” said Ferdinand. “And next year she’s going to be hungry to make the standard.”
It wasn’t just the upper-years taking the race: two first-year swimmers made their names known at the meet.
Ferdinand she is excited for the coming years in swimming, having a strong first-year presence with Albassiouny and Adam qualifying for CIS their first season.
“The future looks good,” she said.
But the one thing standing between Albassiouny and straight gold medals is Olympic swimmer David Sharpe.
“Unfortunately, really, [Eyad] is one of the top five swimmers in the AUS, but he swims all the same events as David Sharpe, who’s an Olympian,” said Ferdinand. “So it’s hard to compare.”
With AUS championships now out of the way, the team is focusing on the quick turnaround to CIS nationals – there’s only an 11-day break between meets.
They will be jamming in the metres and working on speed, then tapering off over the weekend and spending next week working on quality over quantity.
Ranked around 15th in the country, Ferdinand is hoping to have all her swimmers make the B finals – rank ninth to 16th.
“And if they can make the A final [top eight] – that would be amazing.”
Over the past two years, however, the time standards have become noticeably shorter. The 400 free went from a 4:29 time to a 4:24, the 50 m breaststroke from a 34:50 to 33:77 and Young’s event, the 100 fly, went from a 1:04:29 to a 1:03:50, almost a full second’s difference.
The standards are ranked based on the average of 16th place over the last five years.
“If we went by the standards from two years ago I think we would have nine people to qualify, but they’ve dropped down so much that we have a lot of people right on the cusp,” said Ferdinand. “So, we’re getting there, and now we have to get ahead of the curve.”
As an individual sport, she said it’s not like team sports with only a few national players sprinkled in. At CIS, all the national team members and Olympians are attending university, and will be competing, and this year will be seeing much of the 2012 Olympic team.
“It’s going to be fast.”