Artistic Swimming, Sports

McGill makes waves at season-opening invitational

On Nov. 18, artistic swimming teams from universities and CEGEPs across Ontario and Quebec reconvened for the first time in the season at the McGill Invitational. This yearly exhibition, hosted annually by McGill University, marks the beginning of the Canadian University Artistic Swimming League (CUASL) season, uniting in the Western Conference the universities of Ottawa, Carleton, Western, Guelph, Queen’s, Toronto, Laval, Sherbrooke and McGill, as well as John Abbott College. This year, however, is the first time since 2020 that the Invitational took place in November and not January.  

“Last year [was] a little bit [of a] slower start because of COVID, but this year, we really jumped into it right away and we’re focused right away from the start,” second-year experienced swimmer Ana Gordon said in an interview with The Tribune

. “It made it nice because then we bonded really really fast and we got a really good team spirit early on in this season.” 

Events are split into competitor levels ranging from novice (no competition experience at the national or provincial level after the age of 12), competitive (any swimmer who is registered with CUASL), and experienced (athletes that competed nationally or internationally before joining CUASL, or competed provincially after the age of 12). 

The Invitational opened with the showcase of novice duets and trios. Tara Fitzgerald and Diana Paprelli were the first McGill pairing to compete. Their performance on the beat of an LMFAO’s mashup earned them first place in the event, foreshadowing the McGill podium sweep. 

As over twenty experienced duets or trios took the stage, three pairings from McGill showcased their talent. McGill’s second duet—performed by Catherine McGee and Olivia McLaughlin, earned second place with 83.3375 points.

Chloe Gavrilovic and Clara Thomas then took the aquatic stage to perform McGill’s last experienced duet in stunning pink swimsuits. The fast-paced movements stayed in rhythm and were well coordinated, showing extreme underwater skills. This energetic performance earned a total routine score of 81.1292, allowing them to take fifth place in the section ranking. 

Despite the performances proceeding smoothly throughout the competition, the novice event opened with several difficulties. The category began with a significant delay, starting over 10 minutes past schedule. As the first performer began her choreography, the music cut out. Amidst the crowd support, the Waterloo swimmer was granted the opportunity to perform their routine from the start at the end of the novice event. 

Fitzgerald performed McGill’s first novice solo and earned a third-place finish. Her song choice, ‘Million Dollar Bills’ by Lorde, left the crowd amazed with her ability to stay on beat with the hard hitting kicks of the song. 

“It was my first ever meet with McGill and I’m really glad it turned out to be such a success,” Fitzgerald explained about the meet. “I feel very proud of all of my swims and podium places, especially as a novice swimmer. I consider it to be a really great achievement.”

Paparelli closed the section in her red and black suit. Her slow-paced, emotional performance on Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ called forth the claps and roars of the fans. This spectacular performance earned her a total score of 83.93. This score grabbed her first place for the novice podium, feeding McGill’s total medal tally.

Experienced soloist Noémie Girard then performed a very emotional routine on Adele’s ‘Love in the Dark’. This skillful routine granted her 79.3180 points, placing her third on the podium. 

Anna Dolgova earned first place with her energetic and skillful routine on Amy Winehouse’s “Me & Mr. Jones.” Scoring over 88 points, Dolgova took first place. 

As the evening came to a close, the fans were still waiting for the ultimate show of artistry and skills of the team events. 

McGill’s novice team closed the event with an impressive routine to the tune of a Black Eyed Peas mashup, earning first place. 

The McGill experienced teams opened and closed the podium, dominating the competition with artistic yet skillful routines. The first team performed a technical choreography, earning third place, while the second team closed the evening with a gold-worthy performance. Their next competition will take place on Jan. 27 at the Eastern Canada meet. 

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