Written by OUA
Photo by Stephen Leithwood
ST. CATHARINES, Ontario – The University of Toronto Varsity Blues flew out of the gate to open the 2019 OUA Swimming Championships at Brock University on Thursday.
Toronto’s women sit in first place with 375 points, ahead of the McMaster Marauders (192) and Western Mustangs (166). The Blues also lead the men’s standings with 328.5 points, ahead of Western (217) and Waterloo (180).
Toronto’s Olympic swimmer, Kylie Masse, cut through the water like butter on Thursday.
After tying her own OUA record in preliminaries this morning (26.40), Masse earned the major grand slam, winning her fifth career 50-metre backstroke title in 26.51 seconds.
“Kylie’s the best. She’s a generational talent,” said Varsity Blues head coach Byron MacDonald. “She’s a wonderful woman and very humble. Kylie loves being around the team. She draws a lot of strength being around the other swimmers. She works harder than anybody else in the pool. She has the fastest reaction time off the blocks at every meet she’s gone to, including the Olympics.”
Masse, the fifth-year senior and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, finished with three victories and helped her school break two OUA records.
She also anchored U of T’s 200 freestyle relay team of Emily Russell, Rachel Rodé and Sarah Polley to an OUA record time of 1:41.19. Masse capped off the night by swimming the butterfly leg as the Blues 400 medley relay team of Aleksa Gold, Kelsey Crocker and Ainsley McMurray swam an OUA record 4:05.94.
“It’s taken a long time to build this program, but the culture now is that if you’re going to the University of Toronto then you are expecting to perform at a high level,” said MacDonald. “We’ve raised the bar, and it’s my job to keep it there. It ebbs and flows, but what we’re really happy about so far this weekend is how our men’s team has responded.”
The Varsity Blues men’s team has turned over more than 50 per cent of their swimmers.
Alberta Golden Bears transfer Bjoren-Ole Schrader kicked off the night leading a 1-2-3-4-5 U of T finish in the men’s 200 freestyle. Schrader touched the wall in 1:50.66 to claim the gold medal, followed by Gael Chaubet (1:50.68), Mitch Ferraro (1:51.89), Connor Walker (1:52.00) and Osvald Nitski (1:52.23).
The Blues had another solid showing in the 100 butterfly. Matt Dans won his second career gold medal in the event in 54.17 seconds, while Josh Gold (54.51), Nitski (54.80) and Matthew Mac (54.96) placed second, third and fourth, respectively.
Mac also tied for the gold medal in the 50 backstroke (25.72), with Chris Ruus placing third in 26.00 flat.
The Blues placed first in both relays to help bridge the gap in the team standings. Everett Smith, Dans, Ethan Fazekas and Mac won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:31.24, while Mac, Graeme Aylward, Gold and Ferraro came from behind to win the 400 medley relay in 3:42.34.
“I thought they stepped up and did a really good job, because really we’re rebuilding,” said MacDonald. “So, the fact that we’re still able to win is quite gratifying for our men’s team. We’re trying to win the national title. To do that, we have to be really sharp.”
TEAM STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1:
Women’s 200 Freestyle Relay
Men’s 200m Free Relay
Women 200m Free
Men 200m Free
Women 50m Backstroke
Men 50m Backstroke
Women 100m Breaststroke
Men 100m Breaststroke
Women 100m Fly
Men 100m Fly
Women 400 IM
Men 400 IM
Women 400 Medley Relay
Men 400 Medley Relay