Blues swimmer competes in an event. EVAN LUKE/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s and women’s swim teams have enjoyed incredible success this season at both the provincial and national levels.

Two weeks ago, the Varsity Blues travelled to Victoria, B.C. to compete in the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships. Going into the championships, the men’s team held the title as reigning two-time champions and were hoping to leave with yet another victory.

According to veteran athlete Eli Wall, “We knew the provincial OUA title wouldn’t be too hard to maintain, however the national CIS championship was a whole other story. Our rivals at UBC recruited an amazing rookie class of top-level swimmers and we knew from the start that they would be tough to beat.”

Despite the Blues’ commendable performance at the CIS championships, the team was unable to defend the title. With 584 points, the men’s team placed behind the UBC Thunderbirds. But, notes Wall, “the team stayed positive throughout the meet and many people still had incredible swims.”

With two gold medals in the 100-metre and 200-metre breaststroke events and strong performances throughout the year, Wall was named CIS Swimmer of the Year. He was also praised for his continued improvement over the course of the season.

Wall credits much of his success this season to coaches Byron MacDonald and Linda Kiefer.

Wall swam with the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club for the entirety of his club swimming career, and, with the end of the varsity season, he will train with the Toronto Swim Club.

“Switching programs from club to varsity is a drastic change and I guess I’m finally adjusting to the change. Everything just sort of clicked this past week,” said Wall.

“I definitely had my eyes on a national title all year, so being able to win two events was incredible. I am also looking forward to this summer and hopefully qualifying for FISU [International University Sports Federation],” he added.

The women’s swim team had a strong performance at the CIS championships as well, finishing with a total of 412 points. The team won the bronze medal, finishing third behind UBC and the University of Montreal.

According to rookie Kylie Masse, the women’s team started off the season intending to win the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships, and to get a podium finish at the CIS championships. The team certainly achieved these goals.

“I am lucky to be a part of such an encouraging and hardworking group of athletes… I was nervous about adjusting to university and all the changes that come with it, but I quickly became a part of the swimming family because the team, coaches and support staff were all incredibly welcoming and I am grateful to be a Varsity Blue,” said Masse, who won a total of four individual medals throughout the meet.

Veteran Blue Paige Schultz won the Student-Athlete Community Service Award, and the Blues women’s 4×100 relay team won a silver medal.

Both Wall and Masse echoed similar hopes for another amazing season next year. The teams are excited for what the next season may bring, as they look forward to even greater success.

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