Kylie Masse stands confident at the 2018 U SPORTS Swimming Championships. PHOTO BY MARTIN BAZYL COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES

Summer is a fantastic time for Varsity Blues athletes to get experience away from campus. There were several tournaments and competitions where current students and alumni alike showcased the skills they had learned with the Blues programs to the world. 

FINA World Championships

This July, Varsity Blues athletes came up big at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, in Gwangju, South Korea, with U of T alum Kylie Masse and current Varsity Blues swimmer Rebecca Smith helping Canada finish with its best-ever medal count. Masse, who won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, earned one of the two Canadian gold medals for the 100-metre backstroke. She also won a bronze medal in the 200-metre backstroke and in the 4×100-metre medley relay, alongside with Rebecca Smith. 

Smith also won bronze medals in the 4×100-metre and 4×200-metre freestyle relays. Team Canada finished the competition with their best showing yet, winning two gold medals and six bronze medals. They also reached 19 finals — the most since the 1978 world championship.

Canadian Track and Field Championships 

At the Canadian Track and Field Championships Varsity Blues alum Madeleine Kelly won the 800-metre title in a close race with two-time Olympian Melissa Bishop, overtaking her in the last second to secure the gold medal by only 0.03 seconds. During her time at U of T, Kelly helped the Blues win first-place finishes in the 4×400-metre relays in 2016 and 2017 and the 4×800-metre relay in 2017 and 2018. When she is not training, Kelly is a regular contributor to the Canadian Running Magazine. Although her victory may have been considered an upset, her colleagues thought differently. 

“Honestly, nobody at Canadian Running was particularly surprised by the result. Kelly has been working hard and consistently achieving times of 2:02 flat and under, attending training camps through the winter, competing at meets in Canada, the US and Europe in both the 800m and the 1,500m, and steadily improving her times through the indoor and outdoor seasons,” fellow Canadian Running writer Anne Francis wrote in a piece profiling her. 

FISU Summer Universiade 

There was even more success abroad for Varsity Blues swimmers with two winning medals at the Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. Hannah Genich and Ainsley McMurray, the only Varsity Blues athletes to bring home a medal from the Universiade across all sports, secured the bronze medal in the 4×100-metre medley relay. In addition, U of T coach Michèle Bélanger coached Team Canada to a 13th place finish in women’s basketball. In total, Team Canada won a total of one gold, one silver, and four bronze medals at this competition.

Canadian Swimming Championships 

Varsity Blues athletes brought home nine more medals from the Canadian Swimming Championships, held in Winnipeg in August. Hannah Genich and Ainsley McMurray once again lead the way, with Genich winning a gold medal in the 100-metre butterfly, silver in the 200-metre butterfly, and bronze in the 50-metre butterfly. McMurray earned a silver medal in the 100-metre freestyle, and bronze in the 50-metre freestyle. 

Alumnus Eli Wall struck gold twice, winning in both the 50-metre and 200-metre breaststroke, the latter securing him the top swim performance at the meet. Fellow alum Matt Dans won silver medals in the 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly and current second-year swimmer Graeme Alyward nearly made the podium as well, finishing in fourth place in the 100-metre breaststroke. 

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