SFU’s swim team saw massive achievements this past spring, and head coach Liam Donnelly has hopes for a bigger win for the upcoming season. The team consists of an equal spread of 13 swimmers on the men’s and women’s teams this year, with nine new recruits. “Everyone on the team get[s] along and care[s] for each other,” said Donnelly. He also commended the strong leadership skills among the freshmen and sophomores.
The men’s team finished 10th at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national tournament last season — the best placement that SFU has had in recent history — and it aspires for a better placing at this year’s NCAA National Championships set for March in Alabama. With only five months until then, the team must “focus on building and maintaining a high level of strength and fitness while also making technical improvements in the pool,” said Donnelly.
The swimmers spend up to a total of 18 hours training in the pool, along with other strength and core development routines. However, the coach’s concerns extend to the academic success of the team as well. “We would like to couple this with a very high academic team average over the fall and spring semester,” he said, adding that one of the most difficult obstacles is to find a balance between a rigorous academic schedule along with training and competitive demands.
This year, the swimming team consists of many competent swimmers from last season, such as Mackenzie Hamill who won the national title for the 1,650-yard freestyle in March. Another member, Adrian Vanderhelm, secured a third spot in 200- and 500-yard freestyle in the same competition. In addition, Lauren Swistak and Hamill had finished in the top 10 at the Canadian Olympic trials in April.
When sports information director Steve Frost was asked about the best achievements by the team this year, he remarked on the women’s team’s success. A season-opening dual meet saw victory for the SFU women’s team on October 23. The team won 10 of 14 short course metre races collectively, while the men’s team wasn’t able to come out as strongly.
The freshmen of the team have already started to show competent skillsets that are essential for a holistic performance. “I feel very confident about this year’s team in retrospection of last year,” said Frost. “We anticipate it is very realistic to improve our National Championship team placings this year.”
Donnelly believes that the only way of achieving these goals is by staying alert. “The varsity team will have to pay close attention to keeping their health and maintaining consistent routines. Nutrition and sleeping patterns are areas that need to be observed and implemented meticulously.”
SFU is hosting a home meet from November 18–20. The SFU Clan Cup International is taking place on the Burnaby campus, with the final sessions commencing at 5:30 p.m. on each day.