Blues swimmers make waves at Winter Invitational

Varsity swimmer Jess Yu flies to first place
The Blues swim team looks promising ahead of the OUA Championships.
The Blues swim team looks promising ahead of the OUA Championships. PHOTO BY MARTIN BAZYL, COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES

Over the weekend, the Varsity Blues swim team competed against multiple schools, including Western University, Brock University, and the University of Ottawa in the Winter Invitational at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Pool.

The first day of the tournament kicked off without delay at 6:00 pm, following a 5:45 pm warm up.

Hundreds of swimmers and spectators lined the decks and stands as family and friends of swimmers from all over Ontario supported the teams. The pool was so full that it was hard to find seats, which, for a Varsity Blues game, is an impressive turnout.

The night started off with 16 heats of women’s 50 metre freestyle. The competition was fierce and prepared for the night ahead; swimmers such as Charis Huddle from the Western Mustangs displayed their athleticism with swift turns and fluid, speedy movements. The Varsity Blues fared well, taking second and third place in this event.

Chris Ruus of the Blues also impressed, placing first in his heat of the men’s 200 metre backstroke. Going up against very strong swimmers from Brock and Guelph, the Blues swimmer accentuated his fluid arm strokes and strong leg kicks to take first place in his heat and seventh overall. The U of T men continued to show that their training has paid off, claiming top spots in the men’s 200 metre freestyle and 50 metre breaststroke.

U of T swimmers finished off day one with nine first-place finishes out of 16 events. Multiple top-five finishes followed.

The second day of the meet started strong with a win from Varsity Blue Jess Yu in the women’s 200 metre butterfly. Her strong arms and graceful kicks brought her out on top, with Laurentian Voyageurs’ Riley Konrad and Ottawa Gees-Gees’ Claudie Richard falling short of victory and claiming second and third place respectively.

In the middle of event 22, the pools were cleared due to an emergency. A male swimmer was taken away on a stretcher and the decks were cleared for the emergency medical technician. All spectators were moved to the lobby as the swimmer who looked to be in distress was taken out. About half an hour later, spectators were allowed back in, as the competition started again, picking up at the sixth heat of event 22. Mitch Ferraro of the Varsity Blues took second place in the event followed by fellow teammate Cameron Kidd, who claimed third.

The women’s 100 metre breaststroke event was a strong one for the Blues, with Rachael Parsons winning the first heat. Her ability to maintain long strokes while still keeping her immense speed pushed her to first. Nicole Demirov came second in the following heat of the same event, showing the strength in the training of the U of T women.

The day started to wind down with a win from Varsity Blues swimmer Rachel Rode in the first heat of the 50 metre butterfly. The intensity of her arm strokes pushed her to her winning position.

What’s next for the Varsity Blues? The team has continued to improve over the length of the season and will give their best efforts at the OUA Championships in London, Ontario as well as at the U Sports Championships held at Varsity Pool from February 22–24. Come out to support the Blues and experience some world-class swimming competition.

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