by Kirk Jessome
Trying to reclaim their AUS conference title for an incredible 22nd year in a row, the Dalhousie Tigers men’s swimming team is ready to kick off the 2019-20 season this weekend.
After the graduation of one of the most passionate captains Dalhousie has seen in any sport, McKenzie Holden, seniors Alec Karlsen and Tyler Immel-Herron have big shoes to fill in terms of leadership roles.
Now in his fourth year, Karlsen has been leading the team through performance for the past three seasons as a U SPORTS qualifier and consistently one of the Tigers top finishers. Last season was no different, as he proved himself to be the best medley swimmer in the conference at the 200m and 400m distances. Those performances earned him the championship male swimmer of the meet title as he helped his team to victory.
Immel-Herron may be a quiet presence outside of the pool, but his performances when he’s in it certainly are not. Qualifying for the U SPORTS championship in the 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle, Immel-Herron was a vital part of securing the Tigers conference win last season.
Another key piece to taking home that victory and for the future of the program is Christian Payne. After an immaculate rookie campaign capped off by a fifth-place finish at the U SPORTS championship, the backstroke specialist is looking to follow that up with an even better season this year.
After finishing in second-place behind Acadia at early meets this season the Tigers will need contributions from their other seniors to fill in the gaps if they want to extend their streak of conference championships. After picking up a few medals, and sitting just outside of others, the performances of butterfly specialist Jacob Branchflower and distance freestyler Quinn West could be a deciding factor in the outcome of a conference title. With room to grow throughout the season, the Tigers will need to prove their depth in order to be successful.
Having a few strong performances in those early meets, rookie Evan Feick has been impressive for the Tigers so far and will be in the hunt for medal performances at the AUS championship this season.
After claiming their 21st AUS title in a row, the Tigers put together a 13th place finish at nationals last season. Head coach Lance Cansdale says if they want to move back up the ranks, the key will be to establish their depth and maintain the relay dominance that has been their strong suit for so long.
The Tigers first chance to qualify for the U SPORTS championship will be this weekend as they host the Kemp-Fry Invitational at Dalplex. The first events get underway at 4:00pm.