On Oct. 12, the McMaster Swimming Teams travelled across the border to Buffalo, New York to partake in a friendly meet hosted by the University of Buffalo.
The Marauders opened their season on Sept. 29, against the five-time defending conference champions Western Mustangs at the Ivor Wynne Centre. The Mustangs, claiming 16 podium finishes en route to a hotly contested 347-329 point loss, narrowly edged the women’s team. The men’s team claimed 17 medals at the meet.
So when coming into the meet in Buffalo, coach Andrew Cole and his athletes were unsure of what to expect. The University of Buffalo swim teams compete in NCAA Division I, meaning the Marauders were in for a tough challenge, especially given that the Marauders’ season was in its infancy. To further complicate matters, Buffalo’s pools are 25 yards in length, as opposed to 25 meters, so the Canadian swimmers had to make some adjustments for the shorter pool.
Despite the difficulties, however, both the men’s and the women’s teams managed to capture several podium finishes against their tough American counterparts.
There were several notable finishes on the Women’s team. Olivvya Chow claimed the gold in the 200-yard individual medley, Kieran Liew took the gold in the 100-yard backstroke and Virginia Hetherington finished first in the 200-yard backstroke.
The Men’s team also claimed several podium finishes. The quartet of Cameron Bailey, Konrad Bald, Mohamed Eldah and Matthew Vogelzang won gold in the 4×50- yard relay. Bailey claimed gold in the 200-yard individual medley and Eric Anderson, a transfer student from Denver, Colorado, came within 6/10th of a second of beating the pool record in the 100-yard backstroke en route to winning gold and qualifying for the CIS competitions. Several other Marauders also medalled on the day.
After the meet, coach Andrew Cole complimented both the Men’s and the Women’s teams on their performances early on in the season. “I can easily say, for this early in the season, that it’s the best we’ve looked,” said Cole. He also noted that several American coaches who were thoroughly impressed with the Marauders’ showing approached him. A few in particular asked in disbelief, “how good are you guys in Canada?”
Coach Cole said that the meet was very productive. It gave him a chance to “see any weak links…with regard with individuals and what we need to do to get better, and to focus on in training over the next month.” He also said that the “athletes feel a little more confident” following their impressive performance against their Division I opponents.
Their next meet, hosted by the University of Guelph will take place on Oct. 19. Look for newcomers like Eric Anderson, Eldah and Chow to retake the podium, and for veterans like Virginia Hetherington, Kieran Liew, Bailey and Bald to continue to impress.