Vikes swimmers strive for championship qualifications

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

The Vikes swim team enters its spring season with one goal in mind: to qualify as many athletes for the CIS championships as possible. Their only remaining qualification event is the Canadian Western Championships, taking place in Calgary, Alberta.  That meet is about more than just meeting a time standard, says Vikes coach Peter Vizsolyi. “It’s good to get everyone the race experience before the [CIS] championships,” he says. “We need to learn how to distribute our energy properly and you can only do that in a race.” Vizsolyi has been coaching the Vikes for 31 years and says this season is going pretty much to plan so far. With the bulk of the team meeting their CIS qualification standard in the fall, they just have to maintain and improve, going forward. That being said, for those who haven’t met their standard, CanWests could be the end of the line unless they put together a good race. Vizsolyi highlights the progress of a few swimmers this season.  He compliments first-year Jon McKay for his solid racing all season, finishing in the top three in the 1500-metre race. Vizsolyi was also quick to praise the young sprint swimmer Brett Zollen for his considerable progress since last season. “Brett [Zollen] is one of those guys who has made significant lifestyle changes in and out of the pool, and he has shown huge improvement,” Vizsolyi says. “He hasn’t met the difficult sprint standard yet, but he has had success so far.” In December, Zollen raced a 0:51.22 in the 100-metre freestyle, which left him just a fraction of a second from meeting the 0:51.12 CIS standard. With any luck, a good showing at CanWests, Zollen can punch his ticket to the show. The team just returned from their annual training camp. This year’s destination was sunny Arizona. The camp gave the team an opportunity to bond in and out of the pool. Though gruelling, often including multiple workouts per day, the camp is a vital part of the team’s success. Vizsolyi says the camp also gave them an opportunity to train in ways they couldn’t normally. “Because of the weather, we were able to train outdoors and train with more lanes,” Vizsolyi says. “We also get 100 per cent attendance and there are no distractions.” Twenty-one-year-old Vikes swimmer Sarah Galbraith is in her first year training with the team, and she echoes her coach’s thoughts on training camp. “We got to swim outside in the sun and spend a lot of time in close quarters with one another,” Galbraith said. “It was really good to get away and just focus on training with no distractions.” Galbraith is among those who have met their CIS standard already this season. She finished first at the annual Christmas Cracker Invitational in the 50-metre breaststroke, with a time of 33.74. Galbraith now plans to hold fast in her training until she starts the tapering process prior to the CIS championships in Toronto from February 20–22. With her personal goal met for now, she is behind her teammates 100 per cent, as some are still trying for their CIS standard. “I plan to stick to my training and improve my time, but I really hope everyone on the team can qualify,” Galbraith says. With just one event left prior to the CIS championships, it’s vital that the swimmers are swimming at the peak of their game. Keep an eye out as the Vikes look to send a competitive squad to Toronto in February.