It was a record-setting start to the 2019 U SPORTS Odlum Brown Swimming Championships as seven meet records were broken on Day 1 at the new UBC Aquatic Centre.
The reigning national champion UBC Thunderbirds currently occupy first place in the women’s standings with 500.5 points, the Toronto Varsity Blues sit in second (389.5) and the Montreal Carabins finished the day in third (252.5). The Calgary Dinos hold the fourth spot (188) and Victoria Vikes are in fifth place (131).
“It’s been a great Day 1 for our team,” said UBC head coach Stephen Price. “It’s a tough meet, you know the University of Calgary, Montreal and Toronto have come in here and they’re going to throw down. We’re going to be in a battle the whole way through. Our women really stepped up well and our men we’re in a battle with Calgary but they kind of mitigated a bit of the damage with the amount of swims Calgary had.”
On the men’s side, the Dinos (372) lead the defending champion Thunderbirds (330.5) in a battle for first place, Toronto is in third (268), while McGill (240) and Victoria (182) round out the top five.
“I thought we transferred really well from short course to long course and that was a good thing for us,” said Calgary head coach Mike Blondal. “We focused a lot on long-course swimming, the men’s side is deep and they’re working pretty hard. It’s a new format for us, it’s a different order of events so we’re not sure how it all plays out but it’s nice to be in the lead.”
Toronto swimmer Kylie Masse set the first meet record of the evening by breaking her own U SPORTS mark in the women’s 100m backstroke (59.33) to earn her fourth consecutive gold medal in the event.
“It’s always great to break a record, and especially one of my own, it shows improvement so that’s good,” said Masse. “I would’ve liked to have been a bit faster considering everything, I was a bit sick last week. Not to use that as an excuse or anything, but I’m using it as a benchmark moving forward so I’m happy with it.”
The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist and former world record holder is competing in her final U SPORTS championship for the Toronto Varsity Blues.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it as my last U SPORTS championships, but it’ll be sad leaving the team,” said Masse. “I just have to be grateful for all the memories I’ve had with them so really trying to end it with a bang and definitely do the best we can this weekend.”
Her Varsity Blues squad did just that in the women’s 4x100 medley relay, as Kelsey Crocker, Hannah Genich, and Rebecca Smith joined Masse to set a new U SPORTS and Canadian club record with a time of 4:05.55.
Olympic bronze medallist Emily Overholt, 2018 Commonwealth games bronze medalist Markus Thormeyer and fifth-year senior Josiah Binnema each set U SPORTS records for the host UBC Thunderbirds as they strive to defend their national titles.
Overholt set a U SPORTS record in the 400m freestyle with a commanding victory in 4:06.27 as her T-Bird team swept the podium. Megan Dalke earned silver (4:15.57) and Maia Brundage took bronze (4:16.48).
“It was pretty surprising to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting that,” said Overholt. “I was definitely looking at the record before the race so I’m really happy with that and happy to get points for the team. It’s definitely fun to just race with the other girls...getting the sweep was just the cherry on top.”
Meanwhile, Thormeyer won his third straight gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke with a U SPORTS record time of 53.78. Robert Hill of the Calgary Dinos claimed silver (56.27) and teammate Anders Klein captured bronze (56.38).
“It was a pretty good way to start the whole meet,” said Thormeyer. “Looking up and seeing this whole row of T-Bird fans, it just really sets the tone for the rest of the meet. It’s so packed, everywhere I look, there are parents and T-Bird fans, my teammates and even friends from other teams. It’s such a high energy meet and such a nice facility, it’s pretty crazy.”
Thormeyer’s second U SPORTS record came in the final event of the night when his T-Bird 4x100 medley relay team (along with Jaren LeFranc, Binnema and Alexander Pratt) won gold in 3:41.62).
Binnema also set a new U SPORTS record with a time of 52.89 for his second consecutive gold in the 100m butterfly. Fellow fifth-year Thunderbird Alex Loginov earned gold in the 50m freestyle with a time of 23.21.
Montana Champagne also set a U SPORTS record in the men’s 200m individual medley with a time of 2:02.09 to capture gold for the University of Ottawa.
Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog defended her gold medal in the 50m breaststroke (31.80), while also topping the podium in the 200 IM (2:13.98).
Day 2 of the 2019 U SPORTS Odlum Brown Swimming Championships begins Friday morning with preliminary races at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT and finals set for 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.