VANCOUVER, Canada, February 24. THE University of Calgary Dinos ended 10 years of University of British Columbia domination in Canadian Interuniversity Sport swimming by claiming the men's team title at the 2008 CIS championships that came to an end on Saturday night at the UBC Aquatic Centre. The host Thunderbirds retained the women's crown for a record-setting 11th straight season.
The Dinos finished first in the men's standings outscoring the T-Birds, 760-586.5. Calgary, which had taken second place behind UBC 10 years running, had captured the last three titles (1995-1997) and 12 in 16 years before the T-Birds started their amazing run of success in 1998.
Laval (490.5), Toronto (341) and Montreal (242.5) rounded out the top 5 in the men's race.
On the women's side, UBC tallied 704 points en route to its 11th consecutive banner, an unprecedented run in any CIS sport. The Thunderbirds capped off their triumph with a Canadian record in the 4 x 100-meter medley relay as Rachelle Salli, Annamay Pierse, Erin Miller and Stephanie Nicholls won the race in 4:04.95, eclipsing the previous mark of 4:04.97 set a year ago by UBC.
Calgary placed second for the eighth season in a row with 647 points. Laval (307.5), Victoria (297) and Toronto (264.5) followed in order.
Individually, Pierse and UBC teammate Callum Ng were named female and male swimmers of the year. Rookie-of-the-year honors went to Breanna Hendriks of Calgary and Bruno Langlois of Laval, while UBC's Derrick Schoof and Calgary's Mike Blondal were chosen as the top women's and men's coaches, respectively.
Pierse led the way in keeping UBC's win streak alive by sweeping the breaststroke events. The 24-year-old followed up her Canadian record-breaking performances in the 100 and 200-meter events earlier in the meet by setting a new CIS championship record in the 50m Saturday night with a time of 31.57, which came up just short of Keltie Duggan's national record of 31.50 set in 1990. Pierse will have to wait for another day to add the short course breaststroke record sweep to her mantel.
Her fourth gold medal of the meet came under an hour later in the 200m individual medley, with the bronze going to sister and teammate Hanna. The grand finale, however, was when Pierse and her teammates set the new Canadian standard in the medley relay.
"I'm not surprised we swam that fast," said Pierse. "When you've got the best teammates ever and you stick together, anything is possible. I am so stoked. It was just awesome. I'm definitely on track, I'm definitely where I want to be and I'm definitely where I should be."
Ng made it a clean sweep of the backstroke events with a gold-medal winning time of 1:57.35 in the 200 meters to add to his bronze in 100m butterfly and three relay silvers.
"Being captain means not only performing well yourself, but helping the others to perform too," said Ng. "I'm really proud of what we did as a team, but it's a numbers game. We only had 12 swimmers to (Calgary's) 18, but there is no question they've developed well as a team over the years and we have to tip our hats to what they've accomplished. They deserve to be CIS champions."
Calgary's Chad Hankewich capped off his gold-medal wins in the 400 and 200-meter freestyle events with another win on Saturday, in the 100 free. The Saskatoon native posted a time of 49:12 to better his own CIS meet record set last year by two one-hundredths of a second and bring his total medal haul this weekend to six gold and one silver.
Other winners on the women's side Saturday were Calgary teammates Kevyn Peterson, in the 800m free (8:38.02), and Katy Murdoch, in the 200m back (2:11.71), as well as UQTR's Jennifer Carroll in the 100m free (55.55).
Other male winners were Christopher Tobin of Calgary, in the 50m breast (28.28), Laval's Nicolas Murray, in the 200m individual medley (2:03.36), Malcom Lavoie of UBC, in the 1500m free (15:24.86), and the Calgary 4 x 100m medley relay.
Special thanks to Swimming Canada for contributing this report.