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Swim team places third at Stratten divisional championship

The Gee-Gees spurred their hooves against Queen’s, Guelph, Waterloo, and Western on Nov. 16–17 in the Stratten divisional championship in Guelph. Although they only ranked third overall, their performance was exceptionally strong.

“We are very happy with the team’s overall performance,” said head coach Dave Heinbuch. “(They) were able to win nine individual events.”

The team’s strong performance came from both veteran swimmers and rookies. Fourth-year communications student Adam Best won three of his events and came second in his fourth, taking the 50 and 100-metre backstroke as well as the 100-metre freestyle.

“It was our first away meet, which is nice,” said team captain and fourth-year human kinetics student Eryn Weldon. “The girls really stepped up. It was a good place to see where we’re at in our training because we’re kind of in a tough training block.”

Weldon said they hadn’t quite tapered before this meet, which meant a lot of the swimmers were exhausted before the event. Despite the fatigue, first-year human kinetics rookie Caitlin Hodge took two of her events and broke the Gee-Gees’ 800-metre freestyle record with her time of eight minutes 50 seconds 52 milliseconds.

“It was solid,” she said. “We all tried to prepare as if this was the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) meet in March. I think the team is in a good place for this time of the year and the coaches were happy with how we performed.”

Hodge also placed third in the 200-metre fly and the 400-metre individual medley, which is a remarkable feat considering she also swam the 400 and 800-metre freestyles.

“The times weren’t exactly where I wanted them to be,” said Hodge. “But all in all I was happy with my performance this weekend. My strategy was good. I got the record in the 800 free, but I try not to focus so much on records and stuff. I just try to focus on how I can become a better athlete on the team.”

Adding to this was rookie Neeley Arnott’s third-place time in the women’s 100-metre backstroke, which was fast enough to qualify her for the CIS championship in March.

The team currently has six qualified swimmers for the CIS championship, including five on the women’s team and one from the men’s team. It’s a bit early in the season, but fourth-year philosophy captain Nicole Lachance and co-captain Weldon feel confident the team could easily put forward a dozen athletes in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) meet in February.

“My favourite moment was watching the girl’s 800 free,” said Weldon. “Both Nicole (Lachance) and Caitlin (Hodge) did well, and it was a real race from beginning to end. Neither of them dropped off, and we were walking up and down with them on the sides. It was just an exciting moment to be a Gee-Gee.”