Thunderbirds dominate in U Sport swimming championship, sweep both men's and women's titles

The 2017 U Sports swimming national championship wrapped up over the weekend at the University of Sherbrooke.

UBC lost out on national titles last year, as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues swept the competition. This year, the ’Birds dominated to take home both the women’s and men’s national titles.

The ’Birds were facing stiff competition this year from programs across the country led by Olympians. The Blues had Kylie Masse — Rio bronze medalist in the 100m backstroke — on their side. As expected, she swept the backstroke events with UBC’s Ingrid Wilm close behind her in second place in the 50m, 100m and 200m races.

The University of Montreal Carabins had Olympian and Canadian record holder Katherine Savard to boast. She set three U Sport records on her way to claiming three titles.

But the ’Birds had depth on their side with a large roster. This allowed them to place themselves on nearly every podium in the women’s, men’s and relay events.

UBC also had their own Olympians in Yuri “The Missile” Kisil and Markus Thormeyer.

Kisil was especially consistent during the championships, claiming gold in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle. He also recorded world class times in each event, clocking 21.62 seconds in the 50m, 46.94 seconds in the 100m and 1:44.10 seconds in the 200m. His times in the 50m and 100m shattered U Sport records.

Thormeyer also gave a stellar performance. He broke the 200m backstroke record with a time of 1:54.48 in the final as he took his first individual national title.

Another great performance on the men’s side came from veteran T-Bird Coleman Allen. Coming off a severe injury in the off-season and limited pool time for the better half of 2016, he persevered to capture all three butterfly events.

The men’s relay team also swept all three relay events, fending off strong relay teams from the Varsity Blues and the Calgary Dinos.

Erika Seltenriech-Hodgson stole the show. She claimed gold in the 200m breaststroke, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley events. She beat out Masse in the 200m individual medley and Short Course World Championship silver medalist Kelsey Wog in the 200m breaststroke. She also took home a silver medal in the 200m freestyle.

The women’s relay teams were also successful. They took gold in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle relays. The quartet of Wilm, Seltenriech-Hodgson, Erin Stamp and Quincy Brozo fought hard in the 4x100m freestyle but ultimately had to settle for silver, as the Carabin took home the gold led by Savard and the Mainville sisters.

Thunderbirds coach Steve Price also took home the men’s coach of the year award. Kisil also took home the U Sports men's swimmer of the year award. Kylie Masse took the women’s swimmer of the year title. The ’Birds took both rookie of the year titles, which went to Ingrid Wilm and Markus Thormeyer respectively.

With a young team full of talent, there’s no question that the ’Birds will be frontrunners to take both titles again in 2018. For now, national team members like Thormeyer, Kisil and Overholt will continue to train hard as they prepare for Canadian Trials and the 2017 World Long Course Championships in Budapest, Hungary.