Women’s Swimming News

The Toronto Varsity Blues won a third straight national women’s title and their 18th banner overall at the U SPORTS swim championships, a three-day event, hosted by McGill University, that concluded on Saturday before a capacity crowd at the Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre.

The Varsity Blues rallied from a deficit of 108.5 on the final day to finish with 1,444 total points, overcoming UBC (1,300.5), which appeared to be in lockdown mode after 13 of 19 events had been completed over the first two days of the meet. The Thunderbirds settled for silver, while Calgary collected bronze with 872.5. They Rounding out the top five of the 28 competing teams was McGill (788.5) and Western (363).

The Blues registered a meet leading 20 podium appearances, striking gold eight times, to go along with five silvers and seven bronzes. UBC was the next closest squad with a 7-3-7 breakdown, respectively, and Calgary was third with 2-6-3. The next closest team was Western with four medals.

Western’s Shona Branton, who won two gold medals and a bronze, was named swimmer of the year, based on her top two performances at the championship meet.  The 5-foot-9 senior from Port Lambton, Ont., broke the only two meet records to tumble on the women’s side, both of them on the final day in the same event

“I’m super excited, it really means a lot,” said Branton, who was clocked at 30.34 seconds in the morning preliminaries of the 50-metre breaststroke, erasing the short-course standard of 30.45 set in 2022 by Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog. In the evening finals, swam in an Olympic-sized pool, Branton struck gold in 30.84, which surpassed the 2015 long-course record of 31.11 set by Calgary’s Fiona Doyle.

Branton also won the 200 breast on Day 2 and was part of the bronze medal winning 4x100 medley relay.

“I wasn’t really sure how the meet was going to go as I hadn’t had a chance to taper this year (due to illness) and didn’t really have high expectations. I had a kind of tough start in my 100m breast, so I was really happy to make up for that in the 50,” Branton said. “I was going into the meet under the record so I new that I would have to give it my all if I was going to get that in the morning prelims and again in the finals. It was super exciting. But my relay was the most special thing that has ever happened to me at Western and I have never been so proud. We have two rookies on that relay (Leah Butler & Gabriella Casasanta) and both of them were amazing and the girl on the freestyle leg (Danielle Treasure) really killed it.”

Other major award winners included Toronto’s Mahaylia Dafars (Student-athlete Community Service Award), Calgary’s Alexanne LePage (rookie of the year) and UBC bench boss Derrick Schoof (coach of the year).

Ainsley McMurray and Nina Mollin, both from U of T, finished atop the medal count with seven apiece. McMurray collected a meet-high four golds, along with one silver and a pair of bronzes. Mollin matched her four golds and garnered one bronze.

UBC teammates Anna Dumont-Belanger of Chilliwack, B.C., and Bridget Burton of Mill Bay, B.C., both ended up triple golden over the meet, with the former adding a silver and two bronzes.

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS

WOMEN: 1. Toronto, 1,444 points; 2. UBC, 1,300.5 points; 3. Calgary, 872.5; 4. McGill, 788.5; 5. Western, 363.5; 6. Victoria, 222.5; 7. McMaster, 211.5; 8. Alberta, 200; 9. Manitoba, 193.5; 10. Waterloo, 166; 11. Dalhousie, 156; 12. Acadia, 135; 13. Lethbridge, 134; 14. Montréal, 125; 15. Guelph, 94; 16. Ottawa, 91; 17. Laval, 90; 18. Sherbrooke, 41; 19. Brock, 36; 20. Regina, 25.5; 21. Mount Allison, 5; 22. Queen’s, 2.

MEN: 1. Toronto, 1,145 points; 2. Calgary, 922.5; 3. McGill, 893; 4. UBC, 867.5; 5. Ottawa, 516.5; 6. Western, 357; 7. Alberta, 345; 8. Waterloo, 227; 9. Laval, 216.5; 10. Victoria, 191.5; 11. McMaster, 156; 12. Dalhousie, 129; 13. Lethbridge, 125; 14. Laurier, 93; 15. York, 90; 16. Memorial, 74; 16. Carleton, 72; 18. Manitoba, 41.5; 19. Sherbrooke, 58; 20. Acadia, 51; 21. (tie) UQTR and Montréal, 37; 23. Regina, 28; 24. Mount Allison, 12; 25. UNB, 11.

RECORDS BROKEN:

WOMEN:

50m breaststroke (short course, set during qualifying): Shona Branton, Western, 30.34 seconds (Old record: 30.45 by Kelsey Wog of Manitoba in 2022).

50m breaststroke (long course): Shona Branton, Western, 30.84 seconds (Old record: 31.11 by Fiona Doyle in 2015)

MEN:

200m butterfly (long course): Bill Dongfang, Toronto, 2:00.17 (Old record: 2:00.41 by Davide Casarin of Ottawa in 2019).

50m butterfly (long course): Chris Weeks, Memorial, 23.90 seconds (Old record: 24.04 by Coleman Allen of UBC in 2015).

MAJOR AWARD WINNERS:

WOMEN:

Team Champions: Toronto

Swimmer of the Meet: Shona Branton, Western

Rookie of the Year: Alexanne Lepage, Calgary

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Mahaylia Datars, Toronto

Coach of the Year: Derrick Schoof, UBC

MEN:

Nelson C. Hart Trophy (team champions): Toronto

Swimmer of the Meet: Hugh McNeill, UBC

Rookie of the Year: Chris Weeks, Memorial

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Noah Mascoll-Gomes, Dalhousie

Coach of the Year: Byron MacDonald

ALL-CANADIANS

First-team: all gold medalists

Second-team: all silver medalists

GRAND SLAM: no winners.

SUPER GRAND SLAM: no winners.

INDIVIDUAL MEDALISTS:

DAY 3 (March 9, 2024)

WOMEN 

200 butterfly: 1. Nina Mollin, Toronto, 2:16.53; 2. Lora Willar, UBC, 2:19.21; 3. Hayley French, Calgary, 2:19.51.

50 breaststroke: 1. Shona Branton, Western, 30.84 (U SPORTS record); 2. Alexanne LePage, Calgary, 31.53; 3. Eloise Allen, UBC, 32.01.

100 freestyle: 1. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 55.67; 2. Lily Chubaty, Toronto, 57.26; 3. Anna Dumont-Belanger, UBC, 57.29.

200 backstroke: 1. Bridget Burton, UBC, 2:13.33; 2. Haley Klenk, Toronto, 2:15.73; 3. Katelyn Schroeder, Toronto, 2:16.54.

800 freestyle: 1. Anna Dumont-Belanger, UBC, 8:59.50; 2. Anna Hein, Toronto, 9:04.47; 3. Emily De Jager, Calgary, 9:04.92.

4 x 100 medley relay: 1. Toronto (Katelyn Schroeder, Shannon Russell, Nina Mollin, Ainsley McMurray), 4:11.04; 2. Calgary (Hannah Johnsen, Alexanne LePage, Hayley French, Hannah Bennett), 4:11.78; 3. Western (Leah Butler, Shona Branton, Gabriella Casasanta, Danielle Treasure), 4:15.73.

MEN 

200 butterfly: 1. Bill Dongfang, Toronto, 2:00.17 (U SPORTS record); 2. Benjamin Loewen, Toronto, 2:00.85; 3. Kevin Zhang, Waterloo, 2:01.54.

50 breaststroke: 1. Hugo Lemesle, Ottawa, 28.24 seconds; 2. Tristan Bennett, Lethbridge, 28.32; 3. Gabe Mastromatteo, Toronto, 28.33.

100 freestyle: 1. Stephen Calkins, Calgary, 50.51 seconds; 2. Chris Weeks, Memorial, 50.57; 3. Luke Stewart-Bender, Western, 50.90.

200 backstroke: 1. Hugh McNeill, UBC, 2:00.21; 2. Richie Stokes, Calgary, 2:03.82; 3. Benjamin Loewen, Toronto, 2:03.87.

1,500 freestyle: 1. Olivier Risk, UBC, 15:42.62; 2. Liam Clawson-Honeyman, UBC, 15:45.84; 3. Diego Paz, Alberta, 15:50.24.

4 x 100 medley relay: 1. UBC (Hugh McNeill, Ethan Hemeon, Siu Lun Ho, Jake Gaunt), 3:43.23; 2. Toronto (Andrew Herman, Gabe Mastromatteo, Bill Dongfang, Jack Li) 3:43.40; 3. Calgary (Richie Stokes, Ian Cameron, Thomas McDonald, Stephen Calkins), 3:44.60.

DAY 2 (March 8, 2024)

WOMEN

50 freestyle: 1. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 25.68 seconds; 2. Julianne Moore, Calgary, 26.14; 3. Shaunna Walker-Dejong, McMaster, 26.44.

200 breaststroke: 1. Alexanne LePage, Calgary, 2:27.92; 2. Shona Branton, Western, 2:31.12; 3. Amaris Peng, UBC 2:31.71.

400 freestyle: 1. Anna Hein, Toronto, 4:22.48; 2. Naomie Lo, McGill, 4:22.71; 3. Mahaylia Vatars, Toronto, 4:23.09.

100 backstroke: 1. Bridget Burton, UBC, 1:02.16; 2. Katelyn Schroeder, Toronto, 1:02.63; 3. Haley Klenk, Toronto, 1:02.76.

200 individual medley: 1. Nina Mollin, Toronto, 2:18.35; 2. Anna Dumont-Belanger, UBC, 2:18.50; 3. Emma Spence, UBC, 2:18.72.

50 butterfly: 1. Eloise Allen, UBC, 26.86; 2. Anaïs Arlandis, Montréal, 27.63; 3. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 27.85.

4x200 freestyle relay: 1. UBC (Anna Dumont-Belanger, Brooklyn Wiens, Jade Lo, Rosalie Davidson), 8:21.95; 2. Calgary (Alexanne LePage, Hannah Johnsen, Marit Anderson, Emily deJager), 8:25.42; 3. Toronto (Hailey Klenk, Teagan McKenzie, Mahaylia Vatars, Ainsley McMurray), 8:27.95.

MEN

50 freestyle: 1. Liam Weaver, Toronto, 22.72 seconds. 2. Malachy Belkhelladi, McGill, 23.04; 3. Allen Zheng, Waterloo, 23.06.

200 breaststroke: 1. Hugo Lemesle, Ottawa, 2:14.80; Jacob Gallant, Toronto, 2:18.77; Ethan Hemeon, UBC, 2:18.47.

400 freestyle: 1. Liam Clawson-Honeyman, UBC, 3:58.16; 2. Nathan Versluys, Calgary, 3:58.43; 3. Mats Baradat, McGill 3:59.51.

100 backstroke: 1. Hugh McNeill, UBC, 55.44 seconds; 2. Andrew Herman, Toronto, 55.84; 3. Richie Stokes, Calgary, 56.55.

200 individual medley: 1. Benjamin Loewen, Toronto, 2:03.66; 2. Charlie Skalenda, Calgary, 2:05.32; 3. Jacob Gallant, Toronto, 2:05.72.

50 butterfly: 1. Chris Weeks, Memorial, 23.90 seconds (new U SPORTS record); 2. Siu Lun Ho, UBC, 24.23; 3. Hazem Issa, McGill, 24.44.

4x200 freestyle relay: 1. McGill (Artiom Volodin, Pablo Collin, Bruno Dehem-Lemelin, Mats Baradat), 7:32.29; 2. Toronto (Max Tambling, Jack Li, Brendan Oswald, Bill Dongfang), 7:32.99; 3. UBC (Hugh McNeill, Olivier Risk, Liam Clawson-Honeyman, Jake Gaunt), 7:33.68.

DAY 1 (March 7, 2024)

WOMEN

50 freestyle: 1. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 25.68 seconds; 2. Julianne Moore, Calgary, 26.14; 3. Shaunna Walker-Dejong, McMaster, 26.44.

200 breaststroke: 1. Alexanne LePage, Calgary, 2:27.92; 2. Shona Branton, Western, 2:31.12; 3. Amaris Peng, UBC 2:31.71.

400 freestyle: 1. Anna Hein, Toronto, 4:22.48; 2. Naomie Lo, McGill, 4:22.71; 3. Mahaylia Vatars, Toronto, 4:23.09.

100 backstroke: 1. Bridget Burton, UBC, 1:02.16; 2. Katelyn Schroeder, Toronto, 1:02.63; 3. Haley Klenk, Toronto, 1:02.76.

200 individual medley: 1. Nina Mollin, Toronto, 2:18.35; 2. Anna Dumont-Belanger, UBC, 2:18.50; 3. Emma Spence, UBC, 2:18.72.

50 butterfly: 1. Eloise Allen, UBC, 26.86; 2. Anaïs Arlandis, Montréal, 27.63; 3. Ainsley McMurray, Toronto, 27.85.

4 x 200 freestyle relay: 1. UBC (Anna Dumont-Belanger, Brooklyn Wiens, Jade Lo, Rosalie Davidson), 8:21.95; 2. Calgary (Alexanne LePage, Hannah Johnsen, Marit Anderson, Emily deJager), 8:25.42; 3. Toronto (Hailey Klenk, Teagan McKenzie, Mahaylia Vatars, Ainsley McMurray), 8:27.95.

MEN

50 freestyle: 1. Liam Weaver, Toronto, 22.72 seconds. 2. Malachy Belkhelladi, McGill, 23.04; 3. Allen Zheng, Waterloo, 23.06.

200 breaststroke: 1. Hugo Lemesle, Ottawa, 2:14.80; Jacob Gallant, Toronto, 2:18.77; Ethan Hemeon, UBC, 2:18.47.

400 freestyle: 1. Liam Clawson-Honeyman, UBC, 3:58.16; 2. Nathan Versluys, Calgary, 3:58.43; 3. Mats Baradat, McGill 3:59.51.

100 backstroke: 1. Hugh McNeill, UBC, 55.44 seconds; 2. Andrew Herman, Toronto, 55.84; 3. Richie Stokes, Calgary, 56.55.