The Gee-Gees finished second in the overall standings in RSEQ this season. Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum
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Young swimmers Steele, Barrett, and Shiffman all show promise in respective races

Both of the University of Ottawa’s swimming teams were in Sherbrooke, Que. for the RSEQ championships this past weekend, with athletes looking to qualify for the USports championships taking place in Victoria, B.C. on the weekend of Feb. 20.

On Jan. 31, Ottawa won the women’s four-time 50-metre race, the first event of the day. The team composed of Morgan McCartney, Abby Simms, Mayheve Rondeau, and Katie Polley finished the race in 1:44:67. On the men’s side, Allen Zheng, Thomas Boyd, William Green, and William Barrett finished second with a time of 1:32:97. Both teams qualified for the USports Championship.

All-Canadian Delphine Vendal (8:47:49) finished second in her first event, the women’s 400-metre race. Adelle Yamashita-Ball (8:54:42) finished fourth while Mackenzie Feinbeiner (8:57:08) touched the rim fifth. The three swimmers punched their ticket for Victoria with their performances in the 400-metre race. 

Davide Casarin (15:22:37) closed out the day for the Gees, qualifying for the national championships by winning the men’s 1,500-metre race. 

“He’s been a godsend for the team, he’s so professional, he’s always amazing in practices and races for us,” said head coach Dave Heinbuch about the star swimmer.

On Saturday, both the Gee-Gees athletes continued to put up impressive numbers. 

Nineteen-year-old James Steele (4:25:19) was the first to qualify for the national championships on the second day of the meet, finishing third in the 400-metre individual medley event. Teammates Nathan Schiffmann (0:23:41) and Zheng (0:23:51) finished second and third in the men’s 50-metre freestyle, qualifying for the event in Victoria as well. 

“On the men’s side, we had really good recruiting classes, we’re ranked No. 4 in the country, these kids are really versatile,” said Heinbuch about his young athletes. 

For the women, Yamashita-Ball (2:17:75) finished second on the women’s 200-metre butterfly race. Alina Jutti (2:20:24) will be joining Yamashita-Ball at the USports Championship, qualifying despite finishing fifth in the race. Lauren Shearer (1:10:83) finished fourth in the women’s 100-metre brass event and will also be heading to the national championships. Barrett (1:01:81) won the event for the men’s team.

Vendal (2:01:04) was second in the women’s 200-metre race, and also won her second silver medal of the day with the women’s 100-metre team (3:49:41) along with Simms, McCartney, and Rondeau. 

Casarin (1:47:74) won a pair of gold medals on the day, winning the 200-metre race and then closed out the day for the Gee-Gees by helping the men’s 100-metre team (3:21:48) win gold with teammates Boyd, Zheng and Schiffmann. 

Vendal (4:23:20) won her first individual gold of the meet on Sunday, dominating the women’s 400-metre freestyle race. Casarin (3:50:52) easily won the event on the men’s side where he holds the USports time record (3:48:74) that he set at the national championship last year in Vancouver. Freshman swimmer Louis Bertrand (3:55:74) finished fourth and was the sixth Gee-Gee on the men’s side to qualify for the national championships.

Both Steele and Shearer won bronze medals on the day as well — Shearer (2:34:32) in the women’s 200-metre brass event and Steele (2:03:80) in the individual medley 200-metre swim. Shearer also got a bronze medal in the 50-metre women’s brass event.

Casarin (00:50:17) added another gold to his trophy cabinet on Sunday by winning the men’s 100-metre freestyle race. Barrett (2:16:18) won gold for Ottawa in the men’s 200-metre brass event and silver in the 50-metre brass race with a time of 00:28:28

Conor Smyth (1:59:77) won the Gee-Gees only backstroke medal on the weekend, taking home silver and a ticket to Victoria in the men’s 200-metre event.

Gee-Gees teams also had a good day on Sunday, with the 200-metre women’s team (8:15:17) and men’s team (7:23:18) winning gold.

As a whole, the Gee-Gees swim team took home silver from the meet, finishing second this season in the conference. Davide Casarin was named RSEQ Swimmer of the Year and will look to lead the Gee-Gees on the weekend of Feb. 20 to their best result at the USports Championships.

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