Women’s swimming takes Canada West title, rookies play vital role

The Thunderbirds women’s swim team took gold last weekend at the Canada West Swimming Championship, and the men’s team placed second behind the University of Calgary. While returning swimmers all placed highly, the depth of the women’s team roster helped the ‘Birds come out on top.

“It was great for [the women’s team] to win the title back after losing it to Calgary last year,” said head coach Derrick Schoof, who was named Women’s Coach of the Year.

“On the men's side, they gave it everything they had. Calgary was also very good, so it was nice to have such great competition with those guys all the way to the end of the meet.”

The UBC women’s team had held the title for 11 consecutive years when the Canada West season was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. After a year of hiatus, the ‘Birds returned to competition with a short roster and were unable to keep their streak.

Nine recruits joined the T-Birds women’s team at the start of the 2022/23 season. Despite being one of the largest recruit classes the program has seen, Schoof said that "they've integrated themselves seamlessly into the team, and they've been well received.”

“You can see they're already putting up some impressive results.”

On day one of the competition, UBC rookies Alicia L'Archeveque and Eloise Allen finished first and second in the 50 metre breaststroke with times of 30:94 and 31:13, respectively. The pair earned points for their team again in the 100 metre breaststroke on day two. Allen hit the wall first with a time of 1:07:48 and L'Archeveque followed, finishing in 1:08:16.

Allen continued to reach the podium three more times, with a third place finish in the 200 metre breaststroke, second in the 400 metre freestyle relay and first in the 400 metre medley relay. After her outstanding performance at the championship, Allen earned Rookie of the Meet honours.

First-year Camryn Stannard hit the boards in the 400 and 200 metre individual medley and earned points for UBC in the 800 metre freestyle relay.

Rookies Sela Wist, Lora Willar, Mia Barrault and Jade Lo all put up promising results that brought UBC closer to a championship win.

While these results alone didn’t win the championship for UBC, the strong group of recruits was undoubtedly a key factor in capturing the team title. With just under half of the team made up of rookies, the Thunderbirds needed their new swimmers to step up, and they did just that.

The T-Birds are now halfway through their season and will be heading to Hawaii for training camp at the end of the month. On February 24, the teams will head to Victoria for the U Sports National Championships.

“We're already in very good shape as it is. So it's now it's really maximizing everything that we have, including our fitness, our speed and our race tactics,” Schoof said.

“Hopefully, the added depth to a women's roster will play a big part when we get up against Toronto at U Sports.”