HALIFAX, Canada, February 24. MAKE it a perfect 10 for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
UBC completed a sweep of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's and women's swimming banners for the 10th consecutive year – unprecedented marks in any CIS sport – as the three-day competition wrapped up on Saturday at Dalhousie University.
Thunderbird superstar Brian Johns (Richmond, B.C.) ended his record-setting varsity career with a third CIS male swimmer of the year title, another unprecedented exploit. Erin Gammel (Barriere, B.C.) of the University of Calgary Dinos received female swimmer of the year honors for the second time.
The UBC men enjoyed the best meet of their 10-year tenure as national champions. The 787.5 points scored were the most by the team over the past decade, and so were their 17 victories and 30 medals in 19 events.
Calgary (613.5) finished second in the men's race for the 10th straight season, while the host Dalhousie Tigers (246) rounded out the podium.
The Thunderbird women tallied 746 points to edge Calgary (647) for the seventh straight year, while the Laval Rouge et Or (340.5) repeated as team bronze medalists. UBC's women's team closed out the competition with a bang shattering a Canadian senior record in the 4 x 100-meter medley relay.
A two-time Olympian (2000, 2004) who will represent Canada at the FINA world championships in Melbourne, Australia in March, Johns added two more CIS gold medals to his resume on Saturday with wins in the 200m individual medley (1:58.96) and the 4 x 100 medley relay (3:35.64). He ends his career with 34 medals in 34 events at the university nationals, including 33 gold and one silver, and seven meet records, all CIS marks.
The 24-year-old, who returned to university competition a year ago after a two-year absence, is the first athlete, male or female, to be named CIS swimmer of the year on three occasions (2001-02, 2002-03, 2006-07). The other male swimmers who had received the honor twice are Calgary's Jon Cleveland (1989-90, '92-93), Calgary's Tom Ponting ('84-85, '88-89), Laurentian's Alex Baumann ('83-84, '86-87) and Toronto's Dan Thompson ('78-79, '79-80).
"I would like to thank all my teammates, my great sponsors and especially my family for showing me so much support this weekend and throughout my career," said Johns.
"This has been a very successful weekend, I'm really happy with how I swam and it's great to help UBC win our tenth consecutive title. I really believe that I'm close to being ready for Melbourne."
Gammel, also completing her fifth and final year of CIS eligibility, returned to varsity swimming this season after a two-year hiatus. She had claimed CIS MVP honors in her last campaign with the Dinos in 2003-04.
The backstroke specialist, who led Calgary to second place in the medley relay on Saturday, swept the 50 and 100m back for the fourth time in her career this weekend, touching the wall in CIS championship time in the longer race.
"It was a great weekend and it's an honor to be named swimmer of the year," said Gammel. "It would have been great for Calgary to come out on top, but we had a great meet and I'll remember this forever."
Three championship records fell on Day 3, including the UBC foursome of Caitlin Meredith (Kamloops, B.C.), Haylee Johnson (Vancouver), Michelle Landry (North Vancouver) and Stephanie Nicholls (Prince Rupert, B.C.) setting a new Canadian senior mark in the 4 x 100m medley relay with a time of 4:04.97.
The previous senior record of 4:05.21 had been set in 2002 by the UBC Dolphins, while the previous CIS meet mark of 4:05.25 had been established by the Thunderbirds a year ago.
In the women's 50m breaststroke, Calgary's Liz Hendrick (Calgary) and Montreal's Michelle Laprade (Montreal) share the new CIS record as they both touched the wall in 31.81. Laprade had set the previous mark of 32.01 in 2004 as a member of the McGill Martlets.
In the men's 100m free, Calgary's Chad Hankewich (Saskatoon) stopped the clock at 49.14, three hundredths of a second better than Canadian great and former Dino Rick Say in 2002. A former CIS male rookie of the year in 2002-03 while at Regina, Hankewich finished the weekend with seven medals in as many races, including one gold and six silver.
"This win was a long time coming for me this weekend. I'm happy to have finally won gold," said Hankewich. "I really wanted to qualify for the Bangkok Universiade, and it's great to accomplish that."
Montreal's Audrey Lacroix (Pont-Rouge, Que.) captured her fourth gold medal of the meet in the 100m free (55.17).
"It was a pretty good swim. I felt like I had good control all weekend," said Lacroix, who will join Johns on the Canadian team for next month's FINA worlds. "I'm not quite as fast right now as I was last year at this time. I've been training very hard for Melbourne, but I was able to focus and have a great championship."
Other individual wins on the women's side on Saturday went to Laval's Chanelle Charron-Watson (Gatineau, Que.) in the 800m free (8:41.04), and 'Birds teammates Meredith, in the 200m back (2:09.87), and Landry, in the 200m IM (2:13.52).
Meredith (2 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze) and Landry (4 gold, 2 bronze) both finished the weekend with six medals.
Other individual male winners were UBC teammates Scott Dickens (Ancaster, Ont.) in the 50m breast (28.51), Matt Hawes (Ottawa) in the 200m back (1:56.63) and Sandy Lockhart (Vancouver) in the 1500m free (15:28.52).
Thunderbird fifth-year senior Darryl Rudolf (Tsawwassen, B.C.) claimed gold in the relay and silver in the 100m free on Saturday to end the meet with seven medals, including six wins.
Hawes, who had one gold and a pair of bronze in his first appearance at the CIS championship, was named male rookie of the year.
"It was nice to finally win this weekend (in the 200m back). I'm really happy to have qualified for the FISU games this summer."
Rookie of the year honors on the women's side went to Calgary's Kevyn Peterson (Salmon Arm, B.C.), who had two relay gold and a pair of individual third-place finishes in her CIS debut.
Calgary's Mike Blondal and Dalhousie''s David Fry were named coach of the year on the women's and men's sides, respectively.
Pierre Lafointaine, CEO of Swimming Canada and national team coach was at the championships all weekend. He commented on the event saying, "It's been a great atmosphere all weekend. Dalhousie has done a great job of hosting the championships. The atmosphere around the pool has been incredible. The fans and athletes are right on top of the pool and noise has been deafening at times."
"University sport championships like this one offer something that athletes will remember for the rest of their lives. It is so great for these young men and women to be part of such great teams. Everyone is so supportive of each other," added Lafointaine.
"I really believe the weekend has been great for Brian (Johns) and Audrey (Lacroix) as they prepare to compete in the FINA worlds. It has been a great confidence builder for them and they should be able to carry the momentum into Melbourne."
Swimmer of the Year: Erin Gammel, Calgary
Rookie of the Year: Kevyn Peterson, Calgary
Sprinter's Cup (single winner of both 50 and 100 free): not awarded
Coach of the Year: Mike Blondal, Calgary
Swimmer of the Year: Brian Johns, UBC
Rookie of the Year: Matt Hawes, UBC
Sprinter's Cup (single winner of both 50 and 100 free): not awarded
Coach of the Year: David Fry, Dalhousie
1. UBC, 746 points
2. Calgary, 647
3. Laval, 340.5
4. Toronto, 279
5. Montréal, 249.5
6. Victoria, 205
7. McMaster, 142
8. Manitoba, 140
9. McGill, 124
10. Guelph, 99.5
11. Alberta, 96
12. UQTR, 73
13. Dalhousie 64.5
14. Lethbridge, 48
15. Wilfrid Laurier, 45.5
16. Western Ontario, 31
17. Ottawa, 25.5
18. Laurentian, 12
19. UNB, 11
20. Regina, 9
21. Sherbrooke, 4
1. UBC, 787.5 points
2. Calgary, 613.5
3. Dalhousie, 246
4. Laval, 240
5. Montréal, 228
6. Toronto, 214
7. McGill, 150
8. Alberta, 112
9. Guelph, 105
10. UNB, 101
11. McMaster, 98
12. Victoria, 88
13. UQTR, 75
14. Western Ontario, 73
15. Waterloo, 65
16. Laurentian, 60
17. Ottawa, 44
18. Manitoba, 22
19. Trent, 15
T20. Regina, 14
T20. Lethbridge, 14
22. Wilfrid Laurier, 12
23. Sherbrooke, 9