As summer kicks off, many Thunderbirds are going international

With the men’s baseball and women’s softball seasons wrapped up, the Thunderbirds are officially on summer break.

But just because there won’t be any U Sports action until September doesn’t mean that many T-birds won't be competing on the international stage.

The academic break makes way for an international calendar filled with a variety of events from world championships to international games like the Pan American Games and the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Universiade.

Spread out from June to September, many of the international events will feature a number of UBC Thunderbirds competing across a multitude of disciplines, ranging from swimming to field hockey.

FINA World Aquatic Championships

July 12–28

To say that the UBC Thunderbirds swim team is going to be busy would be an understatement.

With a total of 15 current and recently graduated swimmers competing across the world for either Canada or their nation of birth, there is no shortage of blue and gold hitting the international stage.

The most important event in international swimming, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Aquatic Championships will take place in Gwangju, South Korea for its 18th edition. Racing for Team Canada will be veterans Emily Overholt and Markus Thormeyer, both fresh off some stellar U Sports seasons.

Along with them will be recently graduated sprint freestyler Carson Olafson and butterflyer Josiah Binnema, each of whom are starting to solidify their place on the national squad after competing at either the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary or the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia — both in the case of Olafson.

Making his international debut will be Alexander Pratt. The 19-year-old rookie holding his own against veteran swimmers to earn a spot on the Canadian 4×200m freestyle relay along with Thormeyer and Olafson.

Former Thunderbird Yuri Kisil, who left UBC early to go pro, will also be competing in Gwangju in an effort to add to his FINA medal tally.

Distance swimmer Hau Li Fan also qualified as part of the open water squad after finishing second at the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Open Water Swimming Cup in Lac du Causse in Brive, France.

Before moving to the Toronto High Performance Centre, Kisil was a star T-Bird sprinter
Before moving to the Toronto High Performance Centre, Kisil was a star T-Bird sprinter File the Ubyssey

Pan American Games

July 26 - August 11

Four years after Toronto hosted the 2015 Pan American Games, the event will travel to the Peruvian capital of Lima.

Like the previously listed events, the Thunderbirds swim team will be represented thanks to the participation of recent graduate and 2016 Olympian Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson.

Kristina Walker and Jessica Sevick of the Thunderbirds Rowing team will have a chance to compete at the Pan Ams pending their result at the 2019 RCA Speed Orders/National team selection regatta which is being held in June.

Men’s field hockey should also be well-represented, with James Wallace, Fin Boothroyd and Balraj Panesar having been previously named to the national roster in Olympic qualifiers earlier in May. Veterans Rowan Harris and Margaret Pham are also part of the women’s national field hockey squad and should be competing in Lima

Veteran keeper Rowan Harris led the 'Birds to multiple U Sports National Championships
Veteran keeper Rowan Harris led the 'Birds to multiple U Sports National Championships File the Ubyssey

FISU Universiade Games

July 3-14

The FISU Universiade, held every two years, will showcase the world’s best university athletes in Naples, Italy this year. The multi-sport event will again feature a plethora of UBC swimmers.

It will be the first major international competition for Hillary Metcalfe, Olivia Ellard, Megan Dalke, Jaren LeFranc and Dima Lim while Ingrid Wilm, who competed at the 2018 FINA World Short Course Championships in Hangzhou, China, will be making a second appearance for the Canadian national team.

Hoi Lam (Karen) Tam will be at the games as well, representing Hong Kong, having already represented her place of birth at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia.

Kieran Lumb of the Thunderbirds athletics team will also travel to Italy to compete in the 5000m event. Along with Courtney Hufsmith of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, they are the only two Canada West athletes to make the cut for the 2019 Universiade.

Open water swimmer Hau Li Fan will be pulling off a double, competing first in Naples in the open water events before jumping quickly to Gwangju to compete in the same events at the FINA World Championships.

Other Events

The 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup and 2019 Rugby World Cup are not technically in the summer, with the FIBA World Cup starting August 31 in China and the 2019 Rugby World Cup later in September in Japan, but they will still feature past and present Thunderbird athletes.

Morgan represented Canada at last year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia
Morgan represented Canada at last year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia Iyanu Owolabi

Going to Japan will be veterans centre Ben LeSage and scrum-half Will Percillier. Meanwhile Conor Morgan, who was a former guard for the UBC Thunderbirds from 2012 to 2018, should be in uniform once more for the men’s national basketball team after helping to lead the team through the earlier qualifying stages.