DINOS, T-BIRDS LOOK TO DEFEND NATIONAL TITLES IN TORONTO

OTTAWA - While winter Olympians are currently competing in Vancouver, a number of Canadian summer Olympians hope to make waves in Toronto later this week when the nation's top varsity swimmers get together to kick off the 2010 CIS championships season.

The University of Calgary women and University of British Columbia men will be looking to defend their team titles at the annual meet, which returns to the U of T's Varsity Pool for the first time since 2004. The event runs from Thursday to Saturday with preliminaries starting at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. every day.

Last year's CIS championships in Vancouver were highlighted by a passing of the torch on the women's side, with Calgary finally capturing the first team banner in program history after eight consecutive second-place finishes behind UBC.

Official website (live results and video webcast of finals): english.cis-sic.ca/championships/swim

The Dinos' long-awaited triumph marked the end of the Thunderbirds' record run of 11 straight national titles – an unprecedented feat in any CIS sports.

In the men's competition however, the T-Birds reclaimed the team title from the Dinos, who in 2008 had ended UBC's run of 10 championships in a row. Before their breakthrough effort two years ago, the Calgary men had finished second to their archrivals 10 years running.

Despite settling for second place behind UBC at last month's Canada West championships (758 points to 773), the U of C women go into the CIS meet as the No. 1 seed thanks to 585 points in the Swimming Canada rankings.

UBC (476) is ranked third behind the Quebec champion Montreal Carabins (501). The OUA champion Western Ontario Mustangs (279) are the No. 4 seed, while the Dalhousie Tigers (106) are a distant ninth in the national rankings despite claiming their ninth straight AUS women's title earlier this month.

The Dino women were missing two key swimmers at the 2010 Canada West meet including fifth-year star Katy Murdoch, who was nursing an injury. At last year's CIS championships, the Calgary native tallied seven medals in as many events, including five gold, setting Canadian senior records in the 100 and 200-metre backstroke as well as five CIS meet records along the way.

Olympian Erica Morningstar will be another Dino to watch this week in Toronto. The sophomore from Regina, who helped two Canadian relays reach finals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, broke onto the university scene a year ago with seven wins in seven races, all in CIS championship-record times.

"We have our work cut out for us. It's sport, not a math contest, so the results are unpredictable," said U of C head coach Mike Blondal.

"Getting Katy back will be very important for our women's team, which is in a very good position. Erica was at a training camp in Australia just before the Canada West championships to do some more specific work on her sprinting, and she looks really good. We're looking for her to win some events, but she'll have challenges from some of the Montreal swimmers out of the national training centre over there."

"We're really focusing on placement, not just speed, because placement is the name of the game at this meet."

The Quebec champion Carabins are led by Olympians Audrey Lacroix, a fourth-year butterfly specialist from Pont-Rouge, Que., and Geneviève Saumur, a freshman from Montreal.

Lacroix earned QSSF female-swimmer-of-the-year honours this season, while Saumur was named female MVP at the QSSF championships after she racked up six gold medals in six events.

"I've got no idea where we stand in the rankings," said first-year Montreal head coach Claude-Yves Bertrand, who was part of UBC's coaching staff from 2006 to 2009. "All I know is we definitely have the university's strongest group on the women's side since the early 90's, when they finished second four straight years from 1991 to 1994 and they were led by three-time Olympian Guylaine Cloutier."

"Audrey and Geneviève both have good chances of getting on the podium. We also have three very strong relays. We could challenge for gold in all three relays."

UBC lost a key member of its recent dynasty at the end of last season with the graduation of Annamay Pierse, the two-time reigning CIS female swimmer of the year, 2009 BLG Award winner as CIS female athlete of the year, two-time finalist at the 2008 Olympics, and current world record holder in the 200m breaststroke (long course). The Edmonton native swept the three breaststroke events at each of the last two CIS championships.

"This year we have a fairly young team that has undergone some significant changes in our program," said first-year UBC coach Chad Webb. "The team has put behind them some incredible training and we're looking forward to some very good results this cycle. We are looking ready to go, and I'm certain we'll see some exciting racing this week."

Besides Saumur, female MVPs at conference championships this season included UBC's Martha McCabe of Toronto in Canada West, Western's Hayley Nell of London, Ont., in OUA, as well as Dalhousie's Kristen Vandenberg, also of London, in the AUS.

On the men's side, the Dinos look poised to reclaiming the CIS team title after they dominated reigning national champion UBC 764.5 points to 520.5 at last month's Canada West meet.

Calgary tops the Swimming Canada men's rankings with 579 points heading into the CIS championships while the T-Birds (241) are only fourth, behind the seven-time OUA champion Toronto Varsity Blues (489) and 12-time AUS champion Dalhousie (322). The Quebec champion Laval Rouge et Or (225) are ranked sixth.

Last year's CIS men's race came down to the final relay with UBC edging Calgary by 28 points in the standings, the closest finish in CIS swimming history.

"We have a really good men's team, really deep, and several of them are swimming like I've never seen them swim," said Blondal. "All around the men's team is in a solid position and swimming well."

Dino men to keep an eye on in Toronto include fourth-year backstroke specialist Dan Langlois of Pickering, Ont., and sophomore breaststroker Jason Block of Calgary. Langlois was a three-time CIS medallist in 2009.

Both Calgary and UBC lost a number of star swimmers at the end of last season. Gone from the Dinos is Mike Brown of Perth, Ont., who took fourth place in the 200m breaststroke at the 2008 Olympics. T-Bird graduates include Scott Dickens of Ancaster, Ont., a 2004 Olympian and the CIS male swimmer of the year in 2004-05, and Callum Ng of Calgary, a two-time CIS swimmer of the year.

The Varsity Blues, who will have home-field advantage this week, are led by fifth-year senior Colin Russell of Burlington, Ont., the reigning CIS male swimmer of the year and a member of the Canadian 4x200 and 4x100 freestyle relays that finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at the 2008 Olympics.

At last year's Nationals, his first CIS championships after starting his university career at Indiana in the NCAA, Russell amassed seven medals in seven events including three individual wins, all in CIS championship-record times. He was the first male winner of the Sprinter's Cup since 2003 thanks to his victories in the 50 and 100 freestyle races.

"There is nothing quite like the Nationals - and in your home pool it's even more special," said U of T head coach Byron MacDonald. "The great thing about university sport is that these championships are about a team as much as it is about great individual accomplishments, and I like that. Our goal at this meet is to challenge for the podium in both team races."

Male MVPs at 2010 conference championships included Russell in OUA, UVic freshman Nicholas Sinclair of Victoria in Canada West, Laval's Éric Cantin of Jonquière, Que., in the QSSF, and Dalhousie rookie David Sharpe of Halifax in the AUS.

2010 CIS SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE (Heats 10 a.m. / Finals 6 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 18 (order of finals)

#1 Women's 200m Free
#2 Men's 200m Free
#3 W 50m Back
#4 M 50m Back
#5 W 100m Breast
#6 M 100m Breast
#7 W 100m Fly
#8 M 100m Fly
#9 W 400m IM
#10 M 400m IM
#11 W 4 x 100m Free Relay
#12 M 4 x 100m Free Relay
 
Friday, Feb. 19 (order of finals)
#13 W 100m Back
#14 M 100m Back
#15 W 50m Fly
#16 M 50m Fly
#17 W 400m Free
#18 M 400m Free
#19 W 200m Breast
#20 M 200m Breast
#21 W 50m Free
#22 M 50m Free
#23 W 200m Fly
#24 M 200m Fly
#25 W 4 x 200m Free Relay
#26 M 4 x 200m Free Relay

Saturday, Feb. 20 (order of finals)
#27 W 800m Free
#28 M 50m Breast
#29 W 50m Breast
#30 M 200m Back
#31 W 200m Back
#32 M 100m Free
#33 W 100m Free
#34 M 200m IM
#35 W 200m IM
#36 M 1500m Free
#37 W 4 x 100m Medley Relay
#38 M 4 x 100m Medley Relay
 
PAST CIS TEAM CHAMPIONS

Women

- Calgary won its first-ever title a year ago, after finishing second to UBC 8 straight years;
- UBC, silver medallist a year ago, had won the previous 11 titles and 14 of the previous 15;
- Toronto is the only team other than UBC and Calgary to win the title over the past 16 years (1996-97);
- Most CIS titles since 1970-71 (inaugural CIS championship): UBC (16), Toronto (14).

Men
- UBC reclaimed the title from Calgary a year ago, with Calgary finishing second;
- In 2007-08, Calgary had ended UBC's run of 10 straight titles, after finishing second the previous 10 years;
- Before UBC's run (from '97-98 to '06-07), Calgary had won 3 straight titles from 1994-95 to 96-97;
- Toronto is the last team other than UBC and Calgary to win the team title (1993-94);
- Most CIS titles since 1964-65 (inaugural CIS championship): Toronto (16), Calgary (13), UBC (12).

PAST CIS SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR (last 10 years)

Women

2008-09 Annamay Pierse, UBC
2007-08 Annamay Pierse, UBC
2006-07 Erin Gammel, Calgary
2005-06 Kelly Stefanyshyn, UBC
2004-05 Jennifer Carroll, UQTR
2003-04 Erin Gammel, Calgary
2002-03 Liz Warden, UBC
2001-02 Liz Warden, UBC
2000-01 Sophie Simard, Laval
1999-00 Jessica Deglau, UBC
1998-99 Jessica Deglau, UBC
 
Men
2008-09 Colin Russell, Toronto
2007-08 Callum Ng, UBC
2006-07 Brian Johns, UBC
2005-06 Callum Ng, UBC
2004-05 Scott Dickens, UBC
2003-04 Chad Murray, Calgary
2002-03 Brian Johns, UBC
2001-02 Brian Johns, UBC
2000-01 Rick Say, Calgary
1999-00 Bob Hayes, Toronto
1998-99 Curtis Myden, Calgary
 
CIS CHAMPIONSHIP RECORDS

WOMEN
50m Freestyle: Erica Morningstar, Calgary, 2009, 25.17
100m Freestyle: Erica Morningstar, Calgary, 2009, 54.03
200m Freestyle: Erica Morningstar, Calgary, 2009, 1:56.11
400m Freestyle: Carla Geurts, UNB, 2002, 4:07.60
800m Freestyle: Carla Geurts, UNB, 2003, 8:30.39
50m Backstroke: Hanna Kubas, Calgary, 2009, 27.48
100m Backstroke: Katy Murdoch, Calgary, 2009, 58.67        
200m Backstroke: Katy Murdoch, Calgary, 2009, 2:06.81
50m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2009, 30.71
100m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2009, 1:05.16
200m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse, UBC, 2009, 2:18.59
50m Butterfly: Jennifer Carroll, UQTR, 2009, 26.87
100m Butterfly: MacKenzie Downing, Victoria, 2008, 59.31
200m Butterfly: Audrey Lacroix, Montreal, 2007, 2:08.69
200m Individual Medley: Erica Morningstar, Calgary, 2009, 2:09.12
400m Individual Medley: Liz Warden, Toronto, 2003, 4:38.21
4x100m Medley Relay: Calgary, 2009, 4:04.20
(Katy Murdoch, Erica Morningstar, Orla O'Kelly, Seanna Mitchell)               
4x100m Freestyle Relay: Calgary, 2009, 3:38.74
(Erica Morningstar, Katy Murdoch, Seanna Mitchell, Breanna Hendriks)
4x200m Freestyle Relay: Calgary, 2009, 7:55.91
(Katy Murdoch, Breanna Hendriks, Kevyn Peterson, Erica Morningstar)

MEN
50m Freestyle: Colin Russell, Toronto, 2009, 22.03  
100m Freestyle: Colin Russell, Toronto, 2009, 47.23
200m Freestyle: Colin Russell, Toronto, 2009, 1:43.31
400m Freestyle: Rick Say, Calgary, 2001, 3:43.91
1500m Freestyle: Turlough O'Hare, UBC, 1992, 14:52.32
50m Backstroke: Chris Renaud, Calgary, 1997, 24.25
100m Backstroke: Callum Ng, UBC, 2009, 52.24
200m Backstroke: Chris Renaud, Calgary, 1997, 1:54.68
50m Breaststroke: Scott Dickens, UBC, 2009, 27.53
100m Breaststroke: Scott Dickens, UBC, 2009, 59.34
200m Breaststroke: Mike Brown, Calgary, 2009, 2:07.58
50m Butterfly: Kelly Aspinall, Calgary, 2009, 23.60
100m Butterfly: Tom Ponting, Calgary, 1989, 52.62
200m Butterfly: Brian Johns, UBC, 2003, 1:54.76
200m Individual Medley: Keith Beavers, Waterloo, 2009, 1:55.98
400m Individual Medley: Brian Johns, UBC, 2003, 4:02.72
4x100m Medley Relay: UBC, 2009, 3:33.04
(Callum Ng, Scott Dickens, Rory Biskupski, Tommy Gossland)
4x100m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2009, 3:15.42
(Scott Dickens, Rory Biskupski, Callum Ng, Tommy Gossland)
4x200m Freestyle Relay: UBC, 2003, 7:10.95
(Brian Johns, Mark Johnston, Brent Hayden, Justin Tisdall)

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport


Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Fifty-two universities, 10,000 student-athletes and 550 coaches vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit www.cis-sic.ca.