BURLINGTON, Ont. – When the 2017 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Swimming Championships begin Thursday, University of Toronto Varsity Blues standout Kylie Masse (LaSalle, Ont.) and Guelph Gryphons phenom Evan Van Moerkerke (Tillsonburg, Ont.) will headline a stacked field after both swimmers represented Canada at last summer's Rio Olympics.
The OUA Swimming Championships begin Thursday, Feb. 9 at 10:00 a.m. from the Varsity Pool in the University of Toronto Athletic Centre and conclude Saturday evening with the Day 3 finals scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m.
Fans looking to cheer on the Olympians can purchase tickets here or watch the finals streaming live on OUA.tv.
Ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m backstroke, Masse enters the OUA championships coming off a dominant performance at an international meet in Switzerland where she earned three gold medals after sweeping the backstroke events.
Masse captured the hearts of the nation this past summer when at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she won a bronze medal in the 100-m backstroke when she tied Tuanhui Fu of China. She was also the lead-off swimmer in the 4×100-m medley relay that finished 5th in Canadian record time.
In the span of just a couple years, Masse went from being ranked outside the top 200 to one of the fastest in the world and has established herself as one of Canada's brightest young swimmers.
Earlier this season at the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships in Windsor, the fan favourite from nearby LaSalle, Ont. earned a silver medal in the 100-m backstroke in a Canadian record time of 56.02.
Along with teammates Rachel Nicol, Katerine Savard and Penny Oleksiak, Masse also earned another silver medal and set a new Canadian record in the 4×100-m medley relay.
It might be hard for Masse to top her 2015-16 but that speaks more to the high level of success she established a season ago.
Coming off a dominant regular season, Masse struck gold at the OUA Championship, sweeping her individual races in record time, including the 50-m (26.75), 100-m (56.55) and 200-m (2:04.44) backstroke, as well as the 100-m butterfly (57.84), on her way to being named the OUA Female Swimmer of the Year for the second straight season.
The then sophomore sensation continue her run of dominance at the 2016 CIS Championship, again sweeping all three backstroke events establishing new U SPORTS records and a 50-m Canadian record in the process. Improving upon her already impressive individual medal haul, Masse left the national championship with seven medals in total after adding gold in the 4×100-m freestyle relay, and three silvers in the 200-m IM, 4×200-m freestyle relay and 4×100-m medley relay.
It came as no surprise when Masse, who is studying Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, was named the Ontario University Athletics Female Athlete of the Year as well as the recipient of the prestigious BLG Award as the U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year.
Prior to her record breaking season, she represented Canada internationally at the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea where she won the 100-m backstroke.
Not to be outdone, Van Moerkerke has established an impressive resume of his own, highlighted by a seventh place finish at the Rio Olympics as a member of the 4x100m free relay team. Making his Olympic debut, the 6'9'' Van Moerkerke was given the tall task of swimming the anchor for Canada.
At the previously mentioned 13th FINA World Swimming Championships, he swam in the both the 4×50-m freestyle relay and 4×100-m freestyle races where his teams placed 10th and 7th, respectively.
Last summer at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Van Moerkerke joined forces with Santo Condorelli, Karl Krug and Yuri Kisil and earned a silver medal while competing in the 4×100-m freestyle relay.
Van Moerkerke enters this weekend's championship as the four-time defending OUA gold medalist in the 100-m freestyle after he touched the wall in a time of 49.19 last year, just .05 seconds off his OUA record which he established in his rookie season of 2013. He also held the OUA record in the 50-m freestyle up until last year when Varsity Blues swimmer Cameron Kidd surpassed him.
At the 2016 CIS Swimming Championship, Van Moerkerke won gold in the 100-m freestyle (50:84) and silver in the 200-m freestyle (1:51.14). He would later add a bronze medal to his collection as a member of the Gryphons 4x100-m freestyle relay.
As a junior competing at the 2011 FINA World Championships, Van Moerkerke swam the preliminary heat of the 4x100m freestyle relay team that would go on to capture the silver medal.
Van Moerkerke, who began swimming at the age of five before turning competitive at eight years old, is just the third Gryphons swimmer in program history to qualify for the national team.
Kylie Masse Individual Events
|Thursday, February 9||10:00-14:00||05 - Women 100-m Backstroke (Prelim)|
|Thursday, February 9||18:00-20:30||05 - Women 100-m Backstroke (Final)|
|Friday, February 10||10:00-14:00||20 - Women 200-m Backstroke (Prelim)|
|Friday, February 10||18:00-20:30||20 - Women 200-m Backstroke (Final)|
|Saturday, February 11||10:00-13:30||35 - Women 50-m Backstroke (Prelim)|
|Saturday, February 11||17:00-19:45||35 - Women 50-m Backstroke (Final)|
Evan Van Morekerke Individual Events
|Thursday, February 9||10:00-14:00||02 - Men 50-m Freestyle (Prelim)|
|Thursday, February 9||18:00-20:30||02 - Men 50-m Freestyle (Final)|
|Friday, February 10||10:00-14:00||18 - Men 100-m Freestyle (Prelim)|
|Friday, February 10||18:00-20:30||18 - Men 100-m Freestyle (Final)|
|Saturday, February 11||10:00-13:30||32 - Men 200-m Freestyle (Prelim)|
|Saturday, February 11||17:00-19:45||32 - Men 200-m Freestyle (Final)|