UBC Women, Calgary Men Defend Canada West Titles

2023 Canada West Championships

  • November 24-26, 2023
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • UCalgary Aquatic Centre
  • Defending Champions: UBC Thunderbirds (women), Calgary Dinos (men)
  • SCM (25 meters)
  • Results

Courtesy: Ella Milloy

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canada West Championships is rich with regional rivalries – the deepest being between the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds and the University of Calgary Dinos. Every November, the two top schools show their depth across events, battling it out for the most points.

The UBC Thunderbirds quickly built and maintained a significant lead in the women’s points from day one of the competition, winning gold in each of the individual events and sweeping the 50 butterfly. This weekend marks UBC’s 13th  women’s title in 14 years.

With a total of 1,000.5 points, the Thunderbirds kept the charging Dinos at bay. Calgary’s women’s team finished the meet with 875.5 points. In third, the University of Alberta Pandas with 334.5.

On the men’s side, the Calgary Dinos fought to reclaim their team title. At the 2022 championships, the Dinos put an end to UBC’s decade-long title streak. Over the course of the weekend, the men’s point race was much closer but with a total of 970 points, the Dinos captured their 22nd Canada West men’s title – the most in conference history.

UBC placed second with 733 points followed by the University of Alberta Golden Bears with 529.

UBC’s Eloise Allen kicked off the meet with her first individual win of the weekend in the women’s 50 fly. Later in the session, Allen won the 50 backstroke in 27.49, improving on her second-place finish from last year’s championships.

The second year also podiumed in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, capturing a silver in both events in 25.66 and 1:08.75.

Allen’s teammates Sela Wist and Alicia L’Archeveque helped to sweep the podium, winning silver and bronze respectively in 27.47 and 27.51.

Wist went on to lead another UBC sweep in the 100 fly in 1:00.40. Brooklyn Wiens finished in 1:01.38 followed by Lora Willar in 1:01.38.

Dinos’ rookie Alexanne Lepage stopped Allen from reclaiming her title in the 100 breast, capturing the gold in 1:06.12. Lepage, who won two golds at the World Junior Championships earlier in the season, continued her golden streak for the Dinos in both the 200 IM and 400 IM in 2:12.74 and 4:42.89.

Lepage led off the Dinos’ gold medal 4×100 free relay, splitting a 55.94 before passing it off to Julianne Moore in 57.31. Hannah Johnsen and Sarah Corson put up a 56.99 and a 56.30 to score crucial points for the team.

The University of Manitoba Bisons and the Lethbridge Pronghorns captured the silver and bronze in the event after the UBC Thunderbirds were disqualified.

Another rookie, Bridget Burton of the Thunderbirds, also made an impression at her first Canada West Championships. Burton captured two individual golds in both the 100 and 200 back in 59.12 and 2:09.62. She topped off her backstroke medal haul with a silver in the 50 back, finishing after Allen in 27.84. Calgary’s Johnsen earned bronze in 27.88.

In the men’s events, Stephen Calkins of Calgary set the tone for the meet Friday, breaking the conference record during prelims in the 50 fly in 23.63 and again in finals in 23.56 for a repeat win in the event.

UBC’s Siu Lun Ho also repeated his performance from last year, touching second in 23.82. Calgary’s Thomas McDonald finished third in 23.96.

Calkins continued to dominate the sprints throughout the weekend, topping the podium in the 50 free in 22.19 and 100 free in 47.87. His fourth individual medal was bronze in the 50 back in 25.05.

Adding to his depth, Calkins swam the fastest split on the 4×200 free relay – a 1:47.64 – contributing to their first-place finish. Teammates Richie Stokes (1:49.60), Nathan Versluys (1:47.95) and Paul McKenzie (1:48.71) brought the team to a finishing time of 7:13.90.

The UBC Thunderbirds placed second in 7:17.57 and the uAlberta Golden Bears in 7:25.56.

McKenzie and Versluys were also part of a Dino top-four sweep of the 200 free on the second night of the meet. Fifth-year McKenzie touched first in 1:48.64 – redemption from a second-place finish at the 2022 championships.

Teammate Liam Dennett finished just under a second behind in 1:49.51. Versluys and Gibson Black touched third and fourth in 1:49.77 and 1:50.43. All four were under the U SPORTS qualification time of 1:50.58 in the event.

In the 400 IM, Versluys won in a time of 4:17.63 to defend his title from last year’s championships. Ever the mid-distance swimmer, Versluys also topped the podium in the 400 free in 3:53.78.

Siu Lun Ho took silver after Calkins in the 50 free and 100 free, but took home gold in the 100 fly in 52.77. Minh Nguyen of the uAlberta Golden Bears was third in the 50 in 22.79, just 0.01 ahead of fifth-year Pronghorn Chris Alexander.

Alexander went on to win the 50 back in 24.54, followed by Hugh McNeill of the Thunderbirds in 25.03.

Swapping places in the 100 back, McNeill finished in 53.14 for gold and Alexander in 54.08. Calgary’s Stokes finished third in 54.70.

uAlberta’s Frederik Kamminga showed his strength in breaststroke with two wins in the 200 breast and 200 IM, touching in 2:10.67 and 2:01.44.

Other notable performances include Manitoba’s Ella Howe’s 25.64 in the 50 free for first, Manitoba’s Kelsey Fillion’s 100 free gold in 55.81 and UBC rookie Greta Gulyas’s win in the 200 fly in 2:16.44.

Awards

  • Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Women) – Mackenzie Wallich, Calgary
  • Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Men) – Ricky Millns, UVIC
  • Rookie of the Year (Women) – Alexanne Lepage, Calgary
  • Rookie of the Year (Men) – Olivier Risk, UBC
  • Coach of the Year (Women) – Derrick Schoof, UBC
  • Coach of the Year (Men) – Mike Blondal, Calgary
  • Swimmer of the Year (Women) – Alexanne Lepage, Calgary
  • Swimmer of the Year (Men) – Stephen Calkins, Calgary

Final Team Scores

Women

  1. UBC Thunderbirds – 1,000.5
  2. Calgary Dinos – 857.5
  3. uAlberta Pandas – 334.5
  4. UVIC Vikes – 333
  5. Manitoba Bisons – 246.5
  6. Lethbridge Pronghorns – 226
  7. Regina Cougars – 100

Men

  1. Calgary Dinos – 970
  2. UBC Thunderbirds – 733
  3. uAlberta Golden Bears – 529
  4. Lethbridge Pronghorns – 272
  5. UVIC Vikes – 263
  6. Manitoba Bisons – 180
  7. Regina Cougars – 139
  8. TRU Wolfpack – 8

ABOUT ELLA MILLOY

Ella Milloy is a reporter, digital content creator and former competitive swimmer based in Ottawa. Her work has appeared in Capital CurrentThe Canadian Baseball Network and The McGill Tribune. She has also done coverage for Swimming Canada, Swim Alberta and SportBrand Canada Inc.

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John A
2 months ago

How is Stephen Calkins even allowed to compete in his 6th year of eligibility?

OldManSwims
Reply to  John A
2 months ago

He has raced in 2 U-Sports Championships, 2019 & 2023. Before that one season of eligibility used at Denver. What are you on about?

John A
Reply to  OldManSwims
2 months ago

Blondal is that you?

Greg H
Reply to  OldManSwims
2 months ago

Talk about an odd swimming career

Lion Swim
Reply to  John A
2 months ago

Is this just some bitter UBC thunderbird? Head’s up that without his 76 individual points ya’ll still would have lost by ~150