Nine U of O swimmers made CIS qualifying times
Photo by Richard Whittaker
Never will the swim team be in the same headspace as most other varsity sports when it comes to Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) finals. Their season begins earlier, remains active throughout the Christmas break, and ends earlier than others. More importantly, even if the team succeeds at the OUA finals, only individuals will move forward after that point.
“OUAs is a lot of points,” said fourth-year human kinetics student Eryn Weldon. “You look for the schools, to beat the other schools. It’s important to get your hand on the wall first to get points for your school.”
Weldon has been racing with the university for four years. She said although OUAs are very important for the team, she’ll be more focused on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals. This isn’t unusual for the older and stronger players on the team and is a reflection of how complex the sport can be.
The team’s head coach Dave Heinbuch said he feels great about the team this year.
“Our top eight on the men’s and women’s are as good as anybody. Now it’s just a question of seeing how the rest of the team stacks up against the best in the OUAs,” he said. “That’s the fun part. We don’t know and we’re going to find out.”
It can be very difficult to predict team results in swimming because, although heats include four-person relays, the overall event is still centred on individual performances. A fourth-place time could mean great things on an individual level, but will reflect poorly in terms of team points. Conversely, the team could get a first-place spot in a given heat without having put forward their best swimmer.
The team has been tapering a lot since their previous performance at the Ontario Cup on Jan. 19 and has been working on their form and technique.
“The team is looking good,” said Heinbuch. “I couldn’t be any happier with the way things are going. Last year we ranked fourth in the women’s and fifth in the men’s. I’d like to have the women third and the men fourth.”
Fourth-year psychology student Taylor Moore placed first last year in the 200-metre backstroke heat at the OUAs last year.
“I feel like I’ve improved since setting the record at the OUAs last year. I feel good, confident going into this year’s OUAs. Hopefully I can place first again,” she said.
Like Weldon, Moore will be more focused on placing top three at CIS again, but she certainly feels the OUA finals are more competitive than the CIS finals.
The team already has nine athletes who have qualified for CIS finals, which is a good sign.
“The swim team is definitely under estimated,” said Heinbuch. “I don’t think people realize how good these athletes actually are, and how hard they work. That’s probably been the biggest bonus for me as a coach, just how great our top kids are.”