Swimmers gear up for OUA championships

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

When looking for an in-sync Mustangs team " effective and unified in purpose " look no further than Western’s swim team.

The Purple and Silver swimmers have been extremely successful this year, most notably the men’s side, which went undefeated. The men and women also combined to win a second consecutive Ontario University Athletics division championship and hope to carry their success into this weekend’s OUA championship.

“I am most proud of how the team has stuck together,” said head coach Paul Midgley. “We made some tough decisions on creating a framework for continued excellence.”

Team cohesion was a recurring concept that hit home for co-captains Sharif Mahdy and Scott Kowalczewski. Mahdy said the team finds its strength as a collective.

“This has been a very strong year for team unity,” he said. “In some way or another, our rookies and vets have stepped up.”

Kowalczewski singled out individuals like former men’s team captain Ryan Atkinson, while Nadia Kumentas and Kimmi Labbett offer the women’s side leadership and a presence to look up to.

Bryn Jones was repeatedly mentioned as a primary source of the Mustangs’ success.

“[Jones] is top 10 in the country for breaststroke,” Kowalczewski said. “[He’s] an extremely hard worker and excellent motivator.”

Midgley added Jones has lots of positive qualities to offer current and future swimmers.

“He has stepped up with his performances and attitude and has shown great leadership,” he said.

Still, both Mahdy and Kowalczewski said no individual athlete wins a meet for the team.

“Every guy on the team has worked hard and supported each other all year,” Kowalczewski said.

“The men haven’t lost a meet going into the OUA championships, the longest we have ever been undefeated,” he said. “That includes a dual meet win over top-ranked Toronto, only the second time in the past 37 years that we have defeated them.”

Mahdy also commented on the team’s accomplishments apart from going undefeated.

“This isn’t the most talent-filled team we’ve had, but it’s the most hard-working one I’ve been on.”

The Mustangs compete for the OUA championship today through Sunday at Guelph.

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