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Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Voyageurs sending nine to CIS swim championship
by Randy Pascal

On so many levels, this was an OUA championship to remember for head coach Phil Parker and the Laurentian Voyageurs swim team. Competing at the University of Toronto late last week, the Voyageurs not only enjoyed some of their most noteworthy success in program history, but equally as exciting, came together as a team in a manner that Parker has seldom seen before.

“Performance aside, just the emotion, every race, every swimmer on the side, fully invested in everybody’s race - the passion was special,” said Parker. “Even though we were one of the smaller teams, we were making one of the biggest statements.”

In fact, the L.U. crew will send a total of nine swimmers to nationals in Sherbrooke in two weeks time, the largest delegation that has gone from these parts in more than a decade. The women’s team are led by third year star Riley Konrad, qualifying for the CIS championships for the third straight year, and walking away with a provincial gold medal to boot this time around.

“The 400m IM is one of the toughest races to swim, and it’s on the last day of the meet, when you’ve gone through two emotional days,” noted Parker of Konrad’s first place finish. “She was in fourth after the fly and back, and second after the breast, but put it all on the line in the freestyle.”

Joining Konrad in booking their trip to Quebec were rookies Francesca Zammitt-Maempel (100m butterfly), Bethany Robinson (50m breaststroke) and Cassandra Drescher (50/100/200m freestyle). “It was definitely beyond what we were expecting from them, that’s for sure,” stated Parker. “You always know they have a chance, but it was a big jump for them.”

2015-2016 Male Athlete of the Year Matt Schouten showed the way again for the men’s team this year, qualifying individually in the 50m backstroke and 50/100m freestyle events. Now in his third year with the team, breaststroker Andrew Hrycusko hit CIS standards for the first time, as did freshman freestyler Samuel Boily-Dufour.

With three individual swimmers making the grade, Parker was able to add veteran David Ahong to the roster for nationals, rounding out the relay teams for swim events. In fact, the relays also provided two other highlights for the Voyageurs contingent, as the L.U. men qualified, as a team, in the 4 X 100m freestyle relay, allowing Sudburian Christopher Eastick to enjoy a trip to the Canadian Championship in his rookie year.

At the other end of the spectrum, CND graduate Julie Langlois picked up her first ever OUA medal in what could well be her final university race, anchoring the 200m medlay relay. “When she hit the water, we were in sixth,” recalled Parker.

“She overtook three teams to get a medal. For her to get her only OUA medal in her last race, swimming the fastest 50m free of her life, was something pretty special.” Not only did the 2017 OUA meet mark the first ever relay medal for a Laurentian team under coach Parker’s regime, it would also see the team jump from a combined total of 402.5 points last year to 566 this year.

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