Men’s Captain: Eli Wall
Eli Wall has been swimming competitively for only 11 years, but can barely remember a time when he hasn’t been in the water.
The sport has taken him from his cottage, to the 2015 CIS Championships in Victoria, B.C. There, he was named the CIS Swimmer of the Year for his strong season which saw him take home two gold medals in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
This year, Wall hopes to repeat his successes both for himself and his team. Having recently returned from training in Fort Lauderdale, the team’s focus has turned from getting as fit as possible to improving their speed and technique.
While the team is looking forward to defending their championship title at OUAs (Ontario University Athletics) even now, their sights are set on bigger goals: the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) championship. In 2015, U of T came just shy of a three-year winning streak.
Wall thinks the team is stronger and more confident than ever. The first-year swimmers in particular, he notes, “are some of the hardest working swimmers I’ve ever had the opportunity to train with”. He knows that they will pull through in the upcoming competitions.
As captain, Wall looks to keeping everyone focused. “If everyone stays on track individually, the team will thrive.”
Wall cites his favourite swimmer as his third-year Blues teammate Cino Ling, and his favourite stroke as the 200 m breast.
Women’s Captain: Paige Schultz
As a captain, Paige has taken a slightly different approach from Wall during her first year in the position. She acknowledges the difficulty of being a swimming captain — as the sport is both a team and individual sport — but she faces it all with excitement and positivity. Having lost the fun of swimming for a while, she rediscovered it through coaching children. “[…J]ust being easygoing with everything made my swimming so much better”.
Now she jokes behind the blocks and hopes that her swimmers don’t over think things before they compete.That isn’t to say Schultz doesn’t want to win, she does. She is confident about the OUAs, both for the team and for herself. She’s looking to add to her personal successes. In 2014 and 2015, Schultz won the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle events at the OUAs. Her fourth event, however, the 50m Butterfly, has always been placed right before or after one of her other races. This year, she’s hoping to win it, as well.
The team’s real goals, however, lie at the CIS championship. Ranked second in the nation, Schultz feels that retaining their position would be a big deal. “But winning would be better.”
Paige was actually propelled into her swimming career by a knee injury. Originally a gymnast she, like Wall, had also learned to swim at a cottage. When she hurt her knee, her options became surgery or swimming. Schultz won the Student-Athlete Community Service Award at CIS in 2015. She is a lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys and cites Dez Bryant as her favorite athlete. “If I could have half his confidence, I would be super happy… that’s the best part about him.”
The Varsity Blues men’s and women’s swimming teams will head to London to compete in the 2016 OUA championships on February 11-13 where they hope to defend their 2014 and 2015 banners.