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THE GEE-GEES CAPPED off their team’s swimming season Feb. 23–25 at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) championships, hosted by the University of Montreal Carabins. Eighteen athletes from the University of Ottawa were in attendance, having qualified by matching national timing standards at one or more of the season’s regional meets.

“A lot of people were really excited going into CIS because it’s always such a big deal for the team, and it’s probably the most fun meet that I have out of any meet in the year,” said third-year swimmer Adam Best. “CIS is always a meet where it’s more about the team than it is about yourself. You swim as part of the team, you try to get points for the team, and every race the team has your back the whole way.”

While Best was unable to match his 200M backstroke silver-medal performance of last year, he managed to lead the men’s team to an overall 12th-place finish with 86 total points. Best finished fifth in the 100M backstroke, seventh in the 50M backstroke, and ninth in the 200M backstroke.

The women’s team smashed school records and swam to a best-ever eighth-place finish with 171 total points. Notable swimmers included second-year Taylor Moore, second-year Eryn Weldon, second-year Nicole Lachance, and first-year Sherry Patel, who all contributed to setting 11 new U of O records, and an incredible 18 appearances in the finals for Gees athletes.

“As a team, the girls moved up and did better than they’ve ever done in CIS and the university’s history, which is something to be extremely proud of,” said Best.

This year’s solid results came during a transitional time, as the team has undergone a head coaching switch. While former head coach Derrick Schoof has left for the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, Claude-Yves Bertrand has stepped up to replace him.

“This year with Yves, he keeps pushing this attitude that we can be better and we have the ability to get better,” explained Best. “I think that’s probably the biggest change as far as our program is concerned.”

While the CIS championships capped off the season for most swimmers, Best, Lachance, Moore, Weldon, second-year Jose Baylon, first-year Connor Michie, and second-year Stefan Ruksys are gearing up for the 2012 team Canada Olympic time trials which take place from March 27 to April 1.

—Keeton Wilcock