Thirty-eight McGill athletes–20 Redmen and 18 Martlets–competed last weekend at the RSEQ Swimming Championship at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). The Montreal Carabins went home with the women’s title and finished as runners-up for the men’s trophy and the Laval Rouge et Or filled in the blanks with a first place men’s finish and second place in the women’s division. McGill rounded out the top three on both sides with 23 total medals to Montreal’s 44 and Laval’s 42. McGill’s eight gold medals are an improvement over last year’s three at the same meet, brought about by an injection of new swimmers to the team. Twenty-one swimmers are in their first year at McGill, either as rookies or transfer students.
“It’s a very young team and we’re only losing three swimmers to graduation this year,” said sixth-year Head Coach Peter Carpenter. “It’ll be a huge boost to the team that we’ll be able to build off of the experience that we’ll carry through to next year.”
Martlet team captain and 2013 CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Katie Caldwell of White Rock, British Columbia found herself on the podium an astounding six times. She earned individual gold, silver and bronze medals in the 200m medley, 400m medley and 200m backstroke, respectively, with 2:17.06, 4:49.65, and 2:16.75 performances. Caldwell has qualified in all three events for the CIS National Championships at the end of the month. Caldwell also swam in the gold-medal-winning 4x100m freestyle, silver-winning 4x50m freestyle, and bronze-winning 4x200m freestyle.
“[Caldwell has] been a part of the team for four years,” Carpenter said. “She’s someone who has been winning medals consistently every year at provincials and at CIS [championships]. We’re going to lose her after this year and it’s going to leave quite a void. It’s going to be difficult to replace her.”
Junior Simone Cseplo of Toronto, Ontario was another standout performer on the women’s team, earning two individual gold medals with a 29.10 in the 50m backstroke and a 2:00.97 in the 200m freestyle, a relay gold as anchor of the 4x100m freestyle and a silver as third leg on the 4x50m freestyle relay. That Martlet relay finished .09 seconds faster than the previous RSEQ record of 1:45.50, but half a second behind new RSEQ record-holder Laval’s 1:44.49 race.
On the men’s side, 17-year-old freshman Kade Wist of Calgary, Alberta took gold in both the 100m and 200m Butterfly and silver as second leg of the 4x200m Freestyle. Wist made the CIS nationals qualifying standard in the 200m Butterfly with a 2:02.78 ,but missed the 100m time by less than a second at 56.71 seconds.
Other McGill gold medals came in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, the men’s 4x50m medley and the 200m backstroke, with 18-year-old rookie Jason Niness swimming a 2:03.73, only a tenth of a second shy of the CIS standard.
“[Niness] came to us as someone who I would characterize as needing to build experience and I think that just in the past six months he’s gained so much already and stands to improve a great deal,” Carpenter said.
Sixteen McGill swimmers–eight Redmen and eight Martlets–will be competing at CIS nationals at Laval from Feb. 26-28.
“I’d say that winning eight gold medals is an improvement over last year when we only won three. I think a big part of that is that we have some individual performers who came on the team, namely [Wist and Niness], who are both rookies and them coming on the team and winning gold medals in their first year makes a big difference.”
–Carpenter on last weekend’s improved performance over the 2015 RSEQ Championship
The Redmen and Martlets earned a combined eight gold medals, seven silver medals and eight bronze medals.
Moment of the Meet
Physiology Junior Rhys Johnson received this year’s RSEQ Leadership and Citizenship award for exemplifying academics and athletics alongside citizenship. Johnson, a Calgary-native, has been involved at multiple organizations as a volunteer and fundraiser including Camp Kindle, the Rotary Flames House, the Calgary Humane Society, the Cerebral Palsy Association of Alberta, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alberta.
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