by Duncan Forbes
It almost goes without saying that the Tigers swimming teams expect to win the AUS championship each year.
The men’s team has found themselves atop the AUS podium every year since 1999, and that certainly didn’t change this year as they delivered yet another stellar performance, winning the AUS championship and finishing 10th at the CIS championship, placing one spot better than the year before.
The Tigers swept all of their meets during the season. They kicked things off at the Jack Scholz Invitational in Wolfville in October. Sean Berrigan, Gavin Dyke, Chris Reith, Keenan Teghtsoonian and Kyle Watson all placed first in their respective events as the Tigers ran away with the competition, placing 50 points ahead of second-place Acadia.
The Tigers kept up their torrent pace for the rest of the season, and the team finished first in every meet they competed in. Head coach Lance Cansdale says that competition in the AUS is getting better each year.
“In some ways the gap got smaller, yet in others I feel it became larger (between the Tigers and the rest of the AUS),” explains Cansdale. “I think that the quality of athlete that the other universities are attracting is challenging our swimmers to get better all the time. That quality is allowing for great competition within the AUS racing season, but in counter to that, I feel that we have also attracted better athletes and continued to raise the bar of swimming in the AUS as evidenced by the turnover of many of the AUS and Dal records.”
The Tigers hosted the AUS swimming championship, and they reminded everyone why they were the uncontested favorites going in. They finished with 394 points despite sporting an unshaven and unrested squad. Gavin Dyke, Tony Liew, James Profit and Kyle Watson all found the top of the podium in addition to all three of Dal’s relay teams.
“The best thing about the weekend for us was the fact that we came in unrested and unshaven, and we came in and made a lot of personal bests and we raced well,” says Cansdale. “I think it showed the depth of our team and it set us up very well for national, which was our primary focus.”
The Tigers then shifted their sights on the CIS swimming championship at the University of Victoria. Kyle Watson set a Nova Scotian record after placing sixth in the 1500m freestyle, Sean Berrigan placed seventh in the 50m breaststroke, and the Tigers edged out a top-ten finish, placing tenth overall after finishing 11th the year before.
Kyle Watson was named the AUS swimmer of the year, while Sean Berrigan grabbed rookie of the year honours.
After such a successful year, Cansdale says that the team is continuing to train hard, even after the CIS season has come to an end, as they look towards next year.
“Throughout the season we built up the (team’s) confidence and morale to a point that we are training as well now as we did before the championship meets,” says Cansdale. “That is rare, but a quality that “true champions” need to possess to continue to succeed. The hope is to now convert that momentum into the summer competitions and then back into next season. I am very proud to have coached this group!”