Another dominant weekend at a dual meet saw the Marauders qualify a 12th athlete for the CIS national championships.
The event in question was the Brock-Mac Cup, a meet held at the two aforementioned schools over the course of two days on Nov. 26 and 27.
McMaster garnered medals in a slew of events on both the men’s and women’s sides, leading the Maroon and Grey to clinch the team titles across the board.
It was at that dual meet at Sara Thompson notched two podium finishes – including a gold in the 200 individual medley and a silver in the 50m fly – and added her name to a current field of a dozen Marauders heading to the national championships.
The Maroon and Grey’s coach Andrew Cole underscored the significance of having 12 athletes earmarked for the year-end meet with only half of the season complete, and indicates that such a figure marks a drastic progression from past seasons.
“As recently as three years ago we didn’t have 12 national qualifiers in a whole year, so the progress of the team is significant,” said Cole. “Even in my first year, I think we had one male and four female qualifiers go to the event.
“It’s also significant because the qualifying time is a running average of the top 16 swimmers in the country. So if you’ve made that time it’s a very impressive milestone and a good marker of where the team is overall.”
Despite his teams’ early successes, the Marauder mentor is quick to acknowledge that his swimmers must continue to build on the momentum that they have accumulated to this point.
“I think [Marauder football coach] Stef Ptaszek said it best,” Cole said. “It’s one thing to have some success, but you have to have the desire to go a lot further. So we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to be more excited to do more.
“There were some solid performances in the fall, but everyone is hungry to be competitive at the national level.”
Cole also knows that while his swimmers have excelled in several smaller events, they remain some distance off the pace set by the strongest units in the country. He believes however that the Marauders have the correct mentality to close that gap in performance.
“We’ve beaten Western and Guelph in some dual meets, but to go into the University Cup on (Nov. 24) where the eight best teams in the country were there, it wasn’t always the case,” said the coach of his athletes’ high standard. “But the athletes believes more and more that we can get there.”
Part of the improvement that the Marauders envision will come over the holidays, as they look to embark on a warm-weather camp in Jamaica over the course of the Christmas Break. Cole knows that the gains made in the Caribbean could make all the difference at the end of the year.
“We’ve always gone on a warm weather camp to make sure that we capitalize on what we’ve been able to achieve so far,” said the coach. “If we didn’t go to the camp, we would come out of the break on a lower level than we went in on. If we go to the camp, we move to a higher level.
“The difference between those is the difference between being either competitive nationally or falling short.”
In Jamaica, Cole will have 24-hour control of his athletes’ routine, and he plans to make the most of that control for training purposes. Fans of the Maroon and Grey will be able to see the fruits of those tropical labours when the Marauders resume their conference schedule at a dual meet with Toronto on Jan. 14.