The McMaster Swim Team were fiery competitors against the World’s best at the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo, California. The recent event attracted swimmers from the world over including Kitajima Kosuke, the world record holder and Olympic gold medalist from Japan. Also attending was the longest standing world record holder, Edwin Moses, and world’s best Tyler Clary, Kate Ziegler, Jason Lezak, and Katie Hoff to name just a very few.
Undaunted by the world class competition, the McMaster Marauders were spectacular with the team swimming to 53 of 67 lifetime best performances in the star studded field. Marauder coach Andrew Cole said, “it was very encouraging to see our student-athletes be so excited to train so hard this spring and then excitedly race some of the best Olympic athletes.”
Ian Blechta went head-to-head with Kitajima, Canada’s Mike Brown and Moses. Blechta himself advanced to the finals in all of his breaststroke events.
Moustafa Ghoneim qualified for the A final in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes in 59.10 and 2:07.10 respectively, against Clary.
First year swimming sensation Ben Stubbs qualified for an unprecedented four finals swimming the 200m butterfly in 2:06.23 and then just minutes later surprised the field with the 200 backstroke in 2:06.88 seconds with a three second best time. He went on to race the 200 I.M in 2:13.4 and the 400 IM in 4:39.8
Not to be outdone, Sarah Taylor raced the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:04.9, in an incredible three second improvement and took an amazing eight seconds off her 200 freestyle. She also went on to swim the 50 free in 27.40 and the 100 metre event in 59.5 seconds.
Cameron Bailey won the consolation final in the 200 individual medley long course in 2:08.50 and swam the 400 I.M. In a personal best, and a second swim in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 min 55.9 seconds.
Teammate, and newly named National Team member, Konrad Bald went on to a second swim in the 100 breaststroke and a further improvement in the relay with a time of 1:06.6, taking four seconds off his time. He also swam to personal bests in all of his other races.
Fifth-year athlete David Landry, had an outstanding showing by taking 1. 6 seconds off his 100 freestyle in 53.3 seconds and qualified for the Olympic trials in the 50 with 24.22 seconds. He earned second swims in both of these events. To prove he is more than a sprinter, Landry dropped 10 seconds in the 200 IM to swim it in 2 min 14. 00 seconds.
Captain Michael McDonald, had an equal display by improving his 100 free swim by two seconds with a 52.9 to advance to a final. He also raced to personal bests in the 200 free with 1:57.3 and 25.0 in the 50.
Other marauders racing to personal bests under pressure were Kayla Pearce in all of her events. She dropped 10 seconds in the 200 backstroke to swim it in 2:31.9, and she swam the 200 breaststroke four seconds faster in 2:46.1 and also the 100 breast and the 200 individual medley.
Erin McFadyen raced to 100 percent best times with a total of 20 second drop in her four events. Fifth-year athlete and captain Glen Brown swam to a perfect 100 percent as well. He dropped a total of 12 seconds in his four events the 50 and 100 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and swam the 50 fly in 26.9 seconds long course.
Women’s captain Sara Thompson swam to a best in the 100 free and was very close with a 1:05.3 in the 100 fly and a 29.6 in the 50 fly. Rookie of the year, Natasha Strass- Hundal took off two seconds in the 200 back, swam the 100 in 1:08.4, the 50 in 28.2. Virginia Hetherington swam within tenths of a second of lifetime performances in her gruelling races of the 400 and 200 IM and the 200 backstroke and the 100 fly and the 100 back.
Equally remarkable was the recognition that the Marauders were making as a high performance team. Bill Rose, 28 time American National Championship coach, personally invited the team to work out with his team the Nadadores on the morning after the meet. This was quite noteworthy upon arrival when it became evident that the only other teams invited were the New Zealand Olympic Team and the squad of coach Dave Johnson; Johnson has been Canada’s Olympic Coach since 1976.
Olympic Coach Johnson went on to say, “McMaster is proving itself to be made of the same as the best teams in the world. Their spirit and determination to succeed was inspiring to be around.”