The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men and women defended their OUA titles from last season with two more championship victories as they gear up to get ready for the CIS Championships at the end of February.
That win for the men was their 12th straight conference victory and the team’s 63rd win overall since the Dougall Trophy was awarded to the winning team first in 1910. The Blues racked up 985.5 points to take down the Western Mustangs and the McMaster Marauders who finished second and third respectively.
On the women’s side the Blues were able to put together a grand total of 887 points with the Western Mustangs grabbing another second place finish just over 100 points behind them. The Guelph Gryphons were third followed by the Marauders.
According to University of Toronto head coach Byron MacDonald, the conditions were less than favourable at the meet, “the chlorine is way out of wack and all the swimmers are hacking and coughing and the eyes hurt and nobody can get a deep breath without coughing, and of course then you’re not getting enough oxygen and then the performances all suffer.”
MacDonald also commended the University of Ottawa for putting on the meet, “They put on a real good organizational effort to run the meet, but this was unfortunately beyond their control.”
On the first day of competition the Blues were out to an early lead and set three OUA records in the process. Eli Wall rocked a 2:12.14 in the 200m breaststroke to set a new record in a close battle with Ottawa’s Connor Michie.
Vanessa Treasure, who’s known for her prowess in the IMs, took down the record in the 200m breaststroke, an event she’s added a little more focus on this season, with a time of 2:28.95.
The best swim of the night came from Toronto’s Kylie Masse who dropped a 59.15 in the 100m backstroke to win the event by over two and a half seconds. That swim made her the ninth fastest Canadian ever in the event.
“Kylie Masse really jumped up to the fore front of the performances in the meet,” said MacDonald.
Western picked up three wins to keep things close with the University of Toronto. Emma Sproule and Robert Wise won their respective 400m freestyles and Jennifer McNaughton stole the show in the 200m fly with a 2:14.15 performance. In the 200m fly McNaughton went 1-2 with Sarah Asselin who held of Toronto’s Melanie McDonald.
Day two displayed four more OUA records, all done by Toronto swimmers.
Paige Schultz whose been one of the key assets to the Toronto relays demonstrated just why she’s in that position with a 55.10 in the 100m freestyle to claim gold in OUA record fashion. In order to do that Schultz had to take down Western’s Paulina Bond whose raw speed grabbed her the silver medal with a 55.52. Bond did get the better of Schultz in the 50m fly final that night, taking home a gold for her team.
After her OUA record on night one Kylie Masse was rearin’ to go again, and broke two more OUA records in the process. She faced Emma Sproule in the 200m backstroke, beating her by just over two seconds to clock in at 2:09.80 for the record. The 200m IM record was by far the most impressive however, as she broke the longstanding mark set by Canadian IM superstar Joanne Malar. Masse was a 2:12.78 to better the medley record.
“The 200m IM record that she broke was Joanne Malar’s and anybody whose been around swimming long enough knows that Joanne was one of the fastest swimmers in the world in her day and if you can beat a Joanne Malar record you’ve come a long long way,” said MacDonald.
For her third OUA record of the night Masse took part in the 4x100m medley relay where her team won gold in a OUA record of 4:10.06 with Western putting some major pressure on them.
Guelph’s Evan Van Moerkerke displayed one of the most impressive swims of the night on the men’s side with a 49.55 to beat the Toronto’s Chris Manning.
On the third and final day of competition one more OUA record fell, and again it was at the hands of Kylie Masse. Masse dropped a 28.02 to win the 50m backstroke by over a full second and solidify her backstroke sweep at this year’s conference championships.
Hochan Ryu added another OUA victory, taking the 400m IM on the final night of competition. Ryu also won the 200m IM, 200m fly, came second in the 200m freestyle, and added a win as a member of the 800m freestyle relay.
At the end of the meet both Hochan Ryu and Kylie Masse were named the OUA swimmers of the year. Coach Byron MacDonald and Linda Kiefer from Toronto received coach of the year awards.
When asked about Ryu, MacDonald said, “He’s got good technique, he’s got big size, he’s got a good heart.”
The next step for the OUA teams is the CIS Championships held in British Columbia at the end of February. There, Toronto’s rivals UBC are favoured to win according to MacDonald, “I think we’ll have a great CIS Championships, but swimming is a fairly easy sport to predict final standings give or take a few points and UBC is going to be heavily favoured, they have more horses than we do this year.”
There’s no saying who will win, but MacDonald is hopeful that his athletes will swim faster at the CIS Championships.
“I’ve had athletes faster in workouts,” MacDonald said about the OUA Championships.