Western swimmers enjoy great success

Expect big things from next season's marine corps

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Swimming

Jon Purdy

MAKING A SPLASH. Strong performances from swimmers like Ryan Atkinson, Bryn Jones, Christina Malezis, Lenore Chesworth and Scott Kowalczewski propelled Western to a strong season.

Splish, splash! The Western swim team moved through this season with a flash.

The season began on a high note, with the men’s team taking down the rival Toronto Varsity Blues at a meet, while the women fell just short of duplicating the success.

The men were led by standouts Ryan Atkinson and newcomer Bryn Jones, who each won three gold medals. On the women’s side, Christina Malezis and Lenore Chesworth stood atop the podium by day’s end.

Next, the team hopped on a bus to Guelph, where it didn’t slow its pace, earning a second straight Ontario University Athletics West division championship. Mustang Nadia Kumentas played a massive role in defending Western’s title with four first-place finishes.

The ’Stangs couldn’t keep their momentum going on their second visit to Guelph, where the Ontario University Athletics championships were held.

The Purple and Silver fell short of Toronto despite numerous bright spots throughout the weekend. Atkinson, Jones, Chesworth, Kumentas, and Malezis all had top times and qualified for nationals.

After wrapping up the provincial stage, the squad travelled to Dalhousie University for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships. The Mustangs were in tough against the country’s best swimmers but still managed some noteworthy performances.

Jones, making his first CIS championship appearance, had ice in his veins, with two fourth-place finishes and a sixth. Teammates Atkinson and Kumentas got to the wall first in their runner-up races.

The end of the season means the departure of some very valuable teammates.

“The graduation of three students " two of them being our female captains " [will be difficult],” said Western head coach Paul Midgley. “Their leadership will be greatly missed.”

Though there will be key losses next year, other swimmers were just getting into the university race scene and will return next year with more fire in their bellies.

“Amber Hutchinson came from swimming for her high school team... to attending all nine of Western’s practices, with personal best times in the 50-metre and 100-metre freestyle,” said women’s captain Melissa Tobros. “[She] was very close to making CIS [championships].”

This year’s captains already think some swimmers are ready to jump to that next level.

“The past two years, Chris Bento and Graeme Plant have been very, very close to qualifying for CIS championships,” said men’s captain Scott Kowalczewski. “I have a feeling that next year will be their time.”

Though swimming is largely considered an individual sport, Western’s teammates support and motivate each other between events and in practice.

“Matt Bento was battling an illness towards the end of the season,” Kowalczewski said. “As a result, he didn’t swim his best races but was always a positive presence in and out of the pool.”

Midgley has high expectations of his athletes; practice attendance and good behaviour outside the pool rank high on his list.

Though sometimes tough to please, Midgley is impressed with how well the squad performed this year. He thinks greater accomplishments are on the horizon, specifically the team making a bigger splash at nationals next year.

“I see top five [at] CIS for both the men’s and women’s teams next season,” he said.

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