By: Nathan Cooper
This week’s Flashback Friday features the 1998-99 men’s swimming team.
Back Row (L-R): Steve Indig, Dave LeBlanc, Chris Stewart, Oskar Stachowiak, Stuart Kemp, Bette Hawary (Manager)
Middle Row (L-R): Bruce Yip (Manager), Garnett Cross (Biomechanical consultant), Maciek Gawlic, Danny French, Mike Murray, Mike Maguire, Scott Sancton, Chris Stwift, David Fry (Head Coach)
Front Row (L-R): Jonathan DeWolfe, Chris Roberts, Ted MacDonald, Rob Harrison, Adam Widdis, Michael David, Mark DeJong, Jeff Burns
The Tigers men’s swimming team was heading into the 1998-99 season with high aspirations. The three previous years, the AUAA Championship had been claimed by rival swim team, UNB Reds.
The 1998-99 Tigers men’s swimming team boasted one of the deepest, most versatile teams in Tigers history. It was evident once again that the squad would be put to test against a strong UNB squad. Hopes of reaching CIAU’s and making their mark at National’s also lingered through the team.
The rivalry with UNB was highlighted in their first dual meet, where the Tiger squad was defeated by a slim 65-62 margin. Co-Captain, Stuart Kemp led the team with wins in the 200 and 400 freestyle. Chris Stewart, a rookie for the Tigers, won the 100m breaststroke.
It was time for the team to compete in the Legere Invitational, hosted by the Reds. The Tigers were able to find some success at the meet, defeating Laval, Sherbrooke and Mount Allison. But they were unable to defeat the hosts. Kemp yet again led the way for the Tigers, with wins in the 400 and 800 freestyles.
A dual meet with Mount Allison gave the squad its first real taste of victory, winning with an 85-44 score. The Tigers were able to sweep all the events in the meet against the Mounties. Dalhousie then finished off October with wins against Guelph and Waterloo, with a loss coming against Wilfred Laurier.
The Tigers were hosting the AAUU Invitational as the next meet of the year. The team earned a convincing win over the Reds and all other conference teams. Chris Stewart and Marty Laycock made the cut in the 100 breaststrokes, and Kemp also made the cut in the 400 freestyle. The three swimmers would be competing at the CIAU Championship’s.
The team capped off the fall with a very successful trip to the Ontario Senior Championships where the team broke two provincial medley relay records and Stewart broke a 15-year-old AUAA record in the 100 breaststrokes.
The Tigers now had only one final dual-meet with Mount Allison and UNB before the AUAA Championships. Although the team had wins from Kemp in the 200 and 400 freestyle, Oskar Stachowiak in the 800 freestyle and Chris Stewart in the 100 freestyle, they still came up short 61-45 to the Reds. The Tigers defeated the Mounties 76-27 the next day.
The AUAA Championships in February promised to be a showdown between the Reds and the Tigers. The Tigers took a slim 10-point lead after the first day. The lead was then trimmed to just eight points ahead of the Reds after the second day of the meet. There was one point in the third day, where the Tigers only had a 1-point lead on the Reds. The Tigers finally showed their resolve and character, defeating the Reds by a 15-point margin. Team depth was what led the Tigers to victory, as 17 of the 18 men scored for the team.
AUAA Champions were Christ Stewart in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes as well as the 200 IM. Dave LeBlanc was AUAA Champion in the 100 and 200 butterfly, Steve Indig in the 50 butterfly and Stuart Kemp in the 200 freestyle. The team capped their victory with a win in the 400-medley relay and Steve Indig becoming the fourth team member to qualify for the CIAU Championships in Guelph.
At the CIAU meet, Stewart found another gear as he finished sixth and seventh in the finals of the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, smashing his own AUAA records in the process. Kemp finished seventh in the consolation final in the 400 freestyle and eighth in a personal best 200 butterfly. Indig also finished seventh in the consolation final of the 100 butterfly.
Those along with two top-ten relay results put the Tigers in 11th out of the 30 schools attending. This was a very pivotal season for the Tigers men’s swimming team, as they have gone on to win the last 19 Atlantic Championships since then.