The UNB Varsity Reds swim teams are looking to make a major splash at this weekend’s 2015 Atlantic University Sport swimming championship at Dalhousie University.
Robin Ferdinand, the head coach of UNB’s men and women’s teams, said that expectations are high — especially after the V-Reds’ performance at the UPEI Invitational in January where seven UNB swimmers placed in the top three.
“We have many medal hopefuls, and everyone on the team has a solid chance to make the top eight,” she said. “Achieving lifetime bests is obviously the goal for everyone at this championship meet. First-year athlete Allison Somers, fifth-year Jessica LeBlanc, fourth-year Kate Lantz and third-year Amanda Greene are great racers and all have a chance to be on the podium with solid performances.”
The fact that the Varsity Reds already have swimmers who have qualified for Canadian Interuniversity Sport nationals — even before the AUS championship — is an indication of how strong the team has been this season.
“The swimmers swam very well at the AUS Invitational at the end of November and we had a great training camp leading into the New Year,” explained Ferdinand. “The team has really stepped it up in training and they are looking really good in the water.”
For Ferdinand, it’s the wide variety of talent across both genders that makes the V-Reds formidable in the water.
“Charli LeBlanc, Lauren Adam and Cassey Mooney have had top three finishes this season in breaststroke events, and Kaitlyn Young has been one of the top three butterflyers in the AUS. On the men’s side, Chris Garcelon is one of the top breaststrokers in the conference, and Brandon Warren and Taylor Dalke lead in distance free and butterfly.”
While the coach expects the V-Reds to put up a strong fight at AUS, other schools in the region are expected to make it a competition to be reckoned with. There hasn’t been a more dominant school in the pool over the past decade than the host Dalhousie Tigers who have won every men’s championship since 1999 and every women’s title since 2002.
“Dalhousie has been the top team for both male and female for the past 15 years, and have a strong team again – especially on the womens’ side,” explained Ferdinand. “Acadia has a great mix of first year athletes and veteran athletes that have come together to be a very strong team as well. It’s a competitive conference.”
Ferdinand is already looking beyond the AUS meet, hoping that some of her swimmers will join the three already in training for the mid-February CIS championship in Victoria, B.C.
“The three that are already qualified have more time to prepare for Victoria,” she said. “All three have experience at national level meets, so they’ll be ready to race when we get there.”