Vikes swimming team looks forward to bulk of season

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

The Vikes swim team looks back on a successful fall, and looks forward to the upcoming spring, where they hope to continue to invade the podium. The team recently competed in the Island Pacific Cup, resulting in first place finishes from Jordan Stariha and Rachel Newman on the women’s team and Richard Bourgeois, Mark Grasdal, Jon McKay, and Nicholas Sinclair on the men’s side.

The Vikes are loaded with talent, including five-year UVic veteran Ian Mattock, Canadian national team member Aimeson King, who recently represented Canada at the 2013 FISU games, and rookie Jon McKay, who swam his way to a gold medal at this year’s summer games in Quebec.

All of the Vikes athletes are expected to thrive in and out of the pool. The swim team will continue to train hard toward the upcoming Canada West Swimming Championships and the CIS Championships approaching in the spring.

After a successful start to the year, the swim team heads into spring with a full head of steam, taking over the podium at the Island Pacific Cup last week. With a total of six first-place finishes, the team is happy with their performance at the event, but are looking to keep the momentum rolling into the new year.

Talking about the Island Pacific Cup, second-year member Brett Zollen said, “Everyone did really well. We had four people meet CIS [qualification times] that meet.” Nicholas Sinclair, Jon McKay, Aimeson King, and Rachel Newman all qualified for the CIS Championships, posting great times across the board.

After a strong showing at the Island Pacific Cup, the swim team raised the bar in terms of expectations, making themselves contenders for the Canada West Swimming Championships in January and the CIS Championships in February.

“Last year, we finished fourth at the CIS Championships,” Zollen said, “but we’d love to be a top-three team this year.”

Balancing school and swimming is a tough job, but the athletes find a way to succeed both in and out of the pool. The team practices three times per week, while the athletes are enrolled and succeeding in their classrooms at the same time.

Some swimmers are forced to reduce their course load. “Some people swim nine times a week, but the general practice load is eight times a week,” Zollen said. “I’m going to the gym and doing dry-land program as well. You’re looking at 11 to 12 workouts a week.”

After a successful meet, the team is excited for the opportunity to compete in the Canada West Swimming Championships approaching in January, as the team will travel to Calgary, Alberta to compete against the best swim teams in Western Canada. As mentioned, UVic already has four swimmers headed to Toronto in February, but there will be more UVic swimmers joining them before the New Year. With the annual Christmas Cracker tournament upcoming in December, several UVic swimmers will shoot to make the cut and qualify for the CIS Championships. “CanWests isn’t the goal, CIS [Championships] is the big goal,” Zollen says. “If you do poorly at the CIS, nobody remembers what you did at CanWests.”  Zollen adds, “It’s where you separate the men from the boys.”