Shona Branton Sweeps Breaststrokes In Record Fashion At OUAs, Toronto Defends Titles

2024 Ontario University Swimming Championships

  • February 16-18, 2024
  • St. Catharines, Ontario
  • Brock University Pool
  • SCM (25 meters)
  • Results

The Toronto Varsity Blues continued their run of dominance at the 2024 Ontario University (OUA) Championships over the weekend in St. Catharines, sweeping the team titles for the 10th consecutive season.

Long a dominant force in the Ontario division, Toronto uses the meet as a tune-up for the U SPORTS Championships next month.

“Extending our winning streak is gratifying but what is way more gratifying is the times the swimmers achieved to win that team banner. It shows we are on the right track for the upcoming nationals” said Varsity Blues swimming head coach Byron Macdonald.

WOMEN’S RECAP

The Toronto women made it 10 in a row with a dominant showing, outpacing runner-up Western by nearly 500 points behind wins across 17 of the 21 events.

Leading the charge for the Blues was fifth-year Ainsley McMurray, who was a perfect four-for-four individually with titles in the 50 free (24.72), 100 free (54.25), 200 free (1:59.09) and 50 fly (27.10).

In the 50 free, McMurray broke Kylie Masse‘s OUA Record of 24.77 from back in 2018, and in the 100 free, she completed the career Grand Slam by winning her fourth straight title in the event.

McMurray, who also featured on Toronto’s winning 400 free (3:42.58) and 400 medley (4:07.28) relays, the former of which was a new OUA Record, was named the OUA Swimmer of the Year.

“This is very fitting as Ainsley has meant so much to our team and the OUA,” said Macdonald.

In the medley relay, McMurray split 53.57 to erase a massive deficit to Western and bring UT the win.

“The frozen moment in history is her anchor leg on the opening night where she blistered an incredible split to come from 4.5 seconds behind to capture gold,” added Macdonald. “Truly historic.”

Three other Toronto swimmers won multiple individual titles, as second-year Nina Mollin won the 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM, first-year Katie Schroeder topped the 100 and 200 back, and third-year Mahaylia Datars secured wins in the 400 and 800 free.

Schroeder was named OUA Rookie of the Year.

Western third-year Shona Branton, coming off a breakout long course showing last month, was on fire as she swept the breaststroke events and set new OUA Records in all three.

Branton clocked 30.44 in the 50 breast, downing the previous record of 31.26 by a massive margin, and in the 200 breast, she knocked nearly a second off the 2018 record of 2:27.50 in 2:26.56. Both swims improved on her previous best times of 30.97 and 2:28.17, respectively.

In the 100 breast, Branton broke her own OUA Record of 1:06.07 in 1:05.86, just shy of the 1:05.70 PB she set last month in the Mustangs’ dual with Toronto.

Branton also split 29.64 on the Western 200 medley relay which came out on top in 1:52.65 over McMaster (1:53.79) in the lone relay not won by Toronto.

Other winners at the meet were Toronto’s Raili Kary in the 50 back and Anna Hein in the 400 IM.

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS

  1. Toronto – 1,181
  2. Western – 692
  3. McMaster – 491
  4. Waterloo – 426
  5. Guelph – 343.5
  6. Brock – 203.5
  7. Queen’s – 162
  8. Laurier – 139
  9. Carleton – 68
  10. York – 68

MEN’S RECAP

The men’s meet saw a wider distribution of points across the 10 teams but it was still a runaway win for Toronto, putting up 939 points and 12 event wins including a sweep of the relays. The victory marked the 20th straight for UT.

Second-year Varsity Blue Andrew Herman was an absolute force in the sprint backstroke events, soaring to new OUA Records in the 50 back (24.98) and 100 back (53.65). Both swims broke 23-year-old records previously held by Guelph’s Sean Sepulis from back in 2001 (25.05/53.69).

Herman first broke the 50 back record in the individual 50 back before matching the time leading off Toronto’s 200 medley relay that won by nearly two seconds in 1:38.90.

A third record fell on the men’s side from York second-year Eric Ginzburg, who blasted his way to a time of 52.74 in the 100 fly to take down his own mark of 53.02 set in the prelims. His heat swim broke the 2017 record of 53.06 held by Toronto’s Matt Dans.

Ginzburg swept his individual events, also winning the 50 free (22.43), 100 free (49.30) and 50 fly (24.09) en route to being named Male Swimmer of the Year.

Joining Herman as a multi-event winner for Toronto was second-year Benjamin Loewen, who topped the 200 back (1:58.82) and 200 IM (2:02.07).

In the 200 fly, Loewen was the runner-up to Waterloo’s Kevin Zhang in a razor-thin battle that Zhang won by .05, 1:58.90 to 1:58.95.

Also winning two events was Western third-year Kieran Stone, who held off a hard-charging Bill Dongfang in the 200 free, 1:49.22 to 1:49.61, and then comfortably topped the 400 free in 3:53.95.

Toronto’s Dongfang, who came home in 26.79 in the 200 free, was named OUA Rookie of the Year after also taking 3rd in the 200 fly.

“Bill is a huge talent who is still adjusting to university swimming. He has a big future ahead of him. Bill is heading for a great Varsity Blues career” said Macdonald.

Other Men’s Winners

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS

  1. Toronto – 939
  2. Western – 686.5
  3. McMaster – 551.5
  4. Waterloo – 458.5
  5. Laurier – 277
  6. Guelph – 224.5
  7. Brock – 181
  8. Carleton – 176
  9. York – 164
  10. Queen’s – 106

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Tanner-Garapick-Oleksiak-McIntosh
1 month ago

With Shona, Alexanne, Sophie, Kelsey and Sydney competing for spots in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke at the upcoming Canadian Trials this should bode well for our women’s medley relay team.

phelpsfan

This is SCM not LCM, but I do agree that the breaststroke races at Trials will be highly entertaining.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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