Cougars swim team starts new season
by Jason MacKenzie
The University of Regina swim team has begun preparing for the Canada West league. They have competed in two club meets so far, and they will compete in several more before the season officially gets underway in late January.
The team is taking full advantage of the club meets that are available right now. “There is not a lot of opportunity to compete at the varsity level right now,” says head coach Jasen Pratt, “it’s an opportunity to start racing again.” The team has had six to ten weeks off so getting back at it early will certainly help the team shake off the cobwebs and get back to competitive form.
The team, made up of mostly Regina Dolphins, held a meet in Regina on October 18 and 19. They also traveled to Saskatoon October 23 to compete in the Goldfin Invitational. However, the team has been plagued by a stomach flu and only four members made the trek to Saskatoon to compete.
The team is not concerned with winning at this point and is using the meets to warm up. Says Pratt, “We’re not putting a lot of expectations on individual performances at the meets, there are more warm ups.”
The team is made up of five women and eight men, and most of them were on the team last year. The team members bring a wide variety of swimming backgrounds and experience to a team that hopes to improve on last year’s performance.
The men had a respectable finish last year, finishing seventh in the CIS standings, and will try to improve on it this year. According to Pratt, “We will try to maintain and improve on last year’s standing and compete more with the females this year.”
One of the members to keep an eye on this year is last year’s CIS rookie of the year Chad Hankewich. Hankewich had a CIS gold medal performance in the 50m fly last year and should be able to pick up where he left off. He is from Saskatoon and is in his second year of studying engineering.
According to the team’s schedule, the next meet is not until November 27 at the Canadian Open. The team will have at least another four matches before the Canada West finals in Victoria on January 23. After that, the CIS championships will be held in Toronto on March 5.
The swimming team is the only varsity squad in Saskatchewan and as a result they have to travel quite a bit to find other varsity teams to compete against. They are still able to find enough competitive meets to hone their skills and to get into shape for the Canada West finals. It’s the combination of the Dolphin/Cougar team that affords the team all the competition they need. As a club team they can enter all the club events they wish and then compete in the Canada West when the time comes.
With the skill level the team has they should have no problem improving on last year’s performance. Come January they will certainly be in prime shape to place high in the Canada West finals and then move on to the CIS championships. There, Chad Hankewich will have the opportunity to add to his medal count with the experience he has acquired.