HAMILTON, Ont. - Ontario University Athletics (OUA) winter championship season steps onto the starting blocks this Thursday as Brock University hosts the 2010 OUA swimming championships.

The Toronto Varsity Blues are the traditional powerhouse at this championship, having won eight of the last nine OUA banners on both the men's and women's side. But while the Varsity Blues are six-time defending men's champions, the women will be looking for some revenge having lost the crown to the Western Mustangs last year.

Toronto's men won all four of its dual and tri-meets this season. The Varsity Blues are led by Olympian and Canadian record-holder Colin Russell (Burlington, Ont.). The fifth-year student set two national records last year at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships in the 100m and 200m freestyle en route to a six-medal performance. But it was teammate Curtis Samuel (Oakville, Ont.) who made a lasting impression in his debut at the OUA championships in 2009, earning men's swimmer of the meet honours after winning four gold medals and one silver in Ottawa.

Headlining the Varsity Blues on the women's side is fifth-year standout Sasha Theron. The Mississauga, Ont. native is a multiple OUA all-star and the defending champion in the 200m butterfly. Theron is also a double-medalist at the national championships in the 50m and 100m butterfly. Teammate Andrea Jurenovskis (Timmins, Ont.) was also golden in the 50m and 100m backstroke in Ottawa last year.

They will have to contend with the Western Mustangs, who feature two-time women's swimmer of the meet Hayley Nell (London, Ont.). Nell won six gold medals at the championship last year, and set a new OUA meet record in the women's 100m freestyle in a time of 55.36. Teammate Brittany Cooper (London, Ont.) was a five-time gold medalist at the 2009 OUA championships. On the men's side, Bryn Jones (Newmarket, Ont.) is the defending champion in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

Brock Badgers swimmers will look to use their home pool to their advantage. Holly Hopkins (Kapuskasing, Ont.), Victoria Culp (Vineland, Ont.) and Ilana Romanow (Cambridge, Ont.) all hope to improve on Brock's fifth place finish one year ago. Leading the Brock men's team is Keith Van Hemmen (Corunna, Ont.).

The Guelph Gryphons will turn to team captain and veteran swimmer Scott Van Doormaal (Guelph, Ont.) to guide a young team into the championships. The 2007 OUA men's swimmer of the meet is forced to contend with a foot injury. Women's teammate Chantique Payne (Brantford, Ont.) won two OUA gold medals last year and a CIS silver medal. Payne will challenge for medals in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m and 100m butterfly events.

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks are hoping Whitney Rich (Dorchester, Ont.) repeats her four gold medals at last year's championship, including a record time of 1:11.15 in the women's 100m breaststroke. First-year swimmer Renee Dijk (Stratford, Ont.) has qualified for the CIS nationals in three backstroke events, and will make her debut at the OUA championships. Another first-year swimmer, Nemanja Colic (Toronto) has shown great promise this season in men's breaststroke events.

Queen's Gaels swimmer Julian Chang (Richmond Hill, Ont.) will look to recapture an OUA medal in the 50m freestyle after winning bronze in 2007. Margo Bacher (Cornwall, Ont.) is a promising rookie on the women's side and hopes to return Queen's to the podium in breaststroke events.

The Laurentian Aqua Vees are led by Brittany Maltais (Charlottetown), a silver medalist in the women's 50m breaststroke at the OUA championship last year. Kyleigh Commito (Sudbury, Ont.), Emily Jones (Orangeville, Ont.) Jennifer Piper (Powassan, Ont.) have all met CIS qualifying standards this year.

Thirteen schools will send swimmers to the OUA swimming championships, including Brock, Carleton, Guelph, Laurentian, Laurier, McMaster, Ottawa, Queen's, Toronto, Trent, Waterloo, Western and York. Events will take place Thursday through Sunday, and is the final opportunity for OUA student-athletes to qualify for the CIS swimming championships, hosted by the University of Toronto from Feb. 18-20.



Eleanor Misener Aquatic Centre, Walker Complex, Brock University

Thursday, February 4
Opening Ceremonies: 4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Finals: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

W/M - 4x50m Freestyle Relay
W/M - 800m/1500m Freestyle
W/M - 50m Backstroke
W/M - 50m Butterfly

Friday, February 5
Preliminaries: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

W/M - 200m Freestyle
W/M - 100m Breaststroke
W/M - 200m Backstroke
W/M - 100m Butterfly
W/M - 200m Individual Medley
Finals: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
W/M - 200m Freestyle
W/M - 100m Breaststroke
W/M - 100m Butterfly
W/M - 200m Individual Medley
W/M - 4x100m Medley Relay
Saturday, February 6
Preliminaries: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

W/M - 400m Freestyle
W/M - 100m Backstroke
W/M - 100m Freestyle
W/M - 200m Breaststroke
W/M - 200m Butterfly
Finals: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
W/M - 400m Freestyle
W/M - 100m Backstroke
W/M - 100m Freestyle
W/M - 200m Breaststroke
W/M - 4x200m Freestyle Relay

Sunday, February 7
Graduate Parade: 11:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Finals: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

W/M - 4x50m Medley Relay
W/M - 400m Individual Medley
W/M - 50m Freestyle
W/M - 200m Backstroke Final
W/M - 50m Breaststroke
W/M - 200m Butterfly Final
W/M - 4x100m Freestyle Relay

– OUA –


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