U SPORTS, Swimming Canada Announce 2021 University Swimming Challenge

Photo Courtesy: Martin Bazyl

U SPORTS and Swimming Canada have partnered on the 2021 University Swimming Challenge, a virtual competition to replace the usual U SPORTS Championships.

The announcement was made Saturday as a replacement for the U SPORTS Championships, Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA championships. The winter U SPORTS Championships, including swimming and diving, were cancelled in October due to the COVID-19 crisis. They are typically a jumping off point for some of Canada’s top talent, including potential Olympians like Kelsey Wog and Markus Thormeyer.

In lieu of a championship meet, Swimming Canada will help U SPORTS conduct a virtual leaderboard. For five weeks through April 4, U SPORTS eligible swimmers can post times in 41 events (the 38 usually at the U SPORTS Championships plus the 100 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay) over short-course meters.

Swims are to be conducted by the schools in accordance with local safety guidance. They can then be compared virtually with swimmers across the country. Though it’s not an official national championship (i.e. records can’t be set), the University Swimming Challenge offers some replacement for the missing championships.

“We are excited to offer the University Swimming Challenge to provide some meaningful participatory competition for our student-athletes in a safe and virtual manner where possible, while adhering to various provincial and institutional regulations,” U SPORTS Chief Sport Officer Lisette Johnson-Stapley said in a release. “We appreciate the collaboration of Swimming Canada and our swimming membership and community, for proposing a creative concept that will allow us to promote continued development of the sport.”

U SPORTS will publish weekly updates on top-ranked swimmers, team standings and other content on its digital channels. University Swimming Challenge details are available here.

“This is a great opportunity for U SPORTS swimmers to once again step on the blocks in a competitive environment and virtually challenge swimmers from other institutions across the country,” Swimming Canada associate high performance director Iain McDonald said.

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