Nick J. Thierry
HALIFAX - In the women's 200 free Joanne Malar, HWAC, took the lead at the 100 and cruised to an easy win. Her time of 1:59.08 was a personal best. Jessica Deglau, PDSA, touched second. The next two finishers, Sophie Simard, UL, and Andrea Schwartz, ROD earned relay spots. Canada will be defending its title from the 1995 SC Worlds and should be a solid medal prospect.
Yannick Lupien, GO, swimming in lane one, took the early lead, held on and won with a 1:48.14, which earned a spot to the Worlds. Curtis Myden, UCSC touched ahead of Mark Johnston, BROCK, who with Ron Voordouw, UCSC and Eddie Parenti, PDSA, will round out the 4x200 relay team. (Myden has declined selection).
Lupien's time was a personal best by over three seconds. Beating Myden was nothing special. "He's a big name," Lupien said, "but it's not his best event." It was a stroke-for-stoke battle between Julie Howard, BRANT, and Lisa Virgini, PCSC, for the women's 100 backstroke. Howard edged out Virgini by 6/100ths. They both missed the World standard. In the men's 100 back, Chris Renaud, UCSC, was the easy winner in 53.40, as Mark Versfeld, PDSA, touched second in 54.29. Both were under the World standards. Renaud declined selection due to university exams in April.
Nancy Sweetnam, LLSC, and Carrie Burgoyne, MANTA, made a battle of the 400 IM. New kid Burgoyne had the lead at the 100, Malar took control at the 200 and Sweetnam almost moved even on the breaststroke leg. Malar's superior freestyle gave her the winning margin. Sweetnam settled for second and Burgoyne third, with her first-ever national medal, about three seconds back. All three made the required World standard and with Sweetnam declining selection, Burgoyne had her trip to Sweden.
After the race Malar said, "It was a tough double. It was nice to make the team on the first day in my best events. I know I can swim better in Sweden." She was swimming through the meet, without any special taper or rest.
Philip Weiss, PSW, had a wide open opportunity in the men's 400 IM as specialist Curtis Myden did not swim. Weiss took the lead on the fly and was never seriously threatened by Adam Peacey, ETOB, the eventual second place finisher. Weiss made the standard with his 4:16.55, but Peacey missed by 13/100ths.
After one night of swimming, 11 swimmers earned spots on the World team.
Calgary teams won both men's and women's 4x50 medley relays, setting Canadian club records in the heats and finals.
Canadian record-holder Tara Sloan, UCSC was never in doubt of winning the women's 100 breast. She had a big lead at the 50 (31.79) but Danica Wizniuk, STST, closed fast at the finish just an arm length behind Sloan. Both were under the World standard.
"I would have liked to be faster," Sloan said. "But winning and making the team is what this is about."
Russell Patrick, UCSC, was fastest of a slow field. His winning time of 1:02.15 was a second off the World standard. At the end of the championships Patrick was named to the team so that a 4x100 medley relay can be entered.
Out in record pace in the 400 free, Joanne Malar split 59.09 and 2:02.77 for the 100 and 200 but couldn't sustain that speed on the second half, winning in 4:11.38 with Jessica Deglau closing the gap toward the end of the race.
"The 400 free is a long distance sprint," Malar said. "I was tired from last night's double wins."
Ron Voordouw, UCSC, had an easy time winning the men's 400 free in 3:49.65, earning an individual spot to the Worlds. He was never seriously challenged. Brent Sallee, PDSA battled Joseph-Pierre Richard, DDO for second.
Richard eventually faded to fourth. A possible threat wanished in the morning prelims as Mark Johnston, lost his goggles at the start and stopped in frustration after three lengths.
Andrea Schwartz, ROD, was an easy winner in the women's 100 fly but her winning time of 1:01.05 was well off the required standard of 59.71.
Veteran Eddie Parenti, PDSA, captain of last summer's Olympic swim team, held off Garret Pulle, AAC, who was in hot pursuit throughout the 100 fly. Their respective final times of 53.20 and 53.68 qualified them for the Worlds.
Parenti, a graduate from Stanford with a Masters of Civil Engineering, is working full-time with a Vancouver engineering firm and is only training once-a-day.
"I'm not getting the metres, but it is high quality and I think I should be swimming faster," Parenti said. The 25-year-old is taking one meet at a time, but would like to compete at the next Olympics.
Nancy Sweetnam, LLSC, battled Liz Warden, SCAR, throughout the 200 IM as Joanne Malar was a surprising third in one of her best events. Malar was tired after winning three events during the first two nights.
Sweetnam's winning time of 2:15.25 was two seconds off the required World standard.
Finishing sixth was Halifax swimmer Molly Seto, the only female from Atlantic Canada to reach a final. "It was really intimidating being next to Joanne Malar," she said. Her time of 2:18.64 was a personal best.
Curtis Myden, UCSC, the Olympic bronze medallist in this event, was never in doubt in the 200 IM, winning easily with a time of 1:58.27. Mark Versfeld, PDSA, earned his second individual event for the Worlds as his time of 2:00.34 was well under the required standard.
Sprint freestyle continues in the doldrums as both men's and women's winners missed the World standard. Olympic team member Laura Nicholls, ROW, was the class of the women's sprint, winning the race on the start, but falling short of a spot on the World team. Her winning time of 25.67 was off the required 25.43.
Ryan Laurin, WVOSC, touched ahead in the men's 50free with 22.43, just 8/100ths off the required standard.
The women's 200 back resulted in two additional qualifers for the World Championship team. Lisa Virgini, PCSC won this event five years ago at age 15. She was behind Michelle Cruz, ACE, for the first half of the race. But her strong finish moved her into first. Their time of 2:10.49 and 2:11.66 were well under the required 2:12.74.
Chris Renaud's, UCSC, 200 back was the best performance of these championships. He was on record- setting pace throughout and the 1:54.01 erased the five-year-old record of 1:55.25 by Mark Tewksbury.
"When I saw Adrian Radley's time of 1:53.98 at the Australian short course championships last December, I though it was unbelievably untouchable and I'd never get near that time," Renaud said. "It makes me realize what potential there is if I want to set my mind to it.
"The last 50 was pretty painful."
Mark Versfeld missed his touch and Shamek Pietucha, EKSC, was second on the board. But the back-up watches gave Versfeld his true time of 1:56.81 and another swim in Sweden.
The women's 800 free was an opportunity for new swimmers to get to the podium. Tanya Hunks, HWAC, had the lead throughout and Lindsay Beavers, Dorado STARS, was in the race for second with Kate Brambley, IS, and Karine Legault, PPO. Beavers took the silver with Brambley third. The times were well off the qualifying standard.
Tara Sloan, UCSC, won the 200 breast in 2:27.39 just under the World standard, while a surprising Lauren Van Oosten, NRSC, was a close second in 2:27.90, just over the standard.
The men's breaststroke was slow. Season leader Andrew Chan, ETOB, who won the British SC last December with a 2:11.94, was way off form. He finished fourth with 2:15.04. Curtis Myden, UCSC, was the eventual winner in 2:14.05, just ahead of newcomers to the podium David Schulze, BTSC, and Morgan Knabe, EKSC. The World standard was 2:12.74.
The women's 100 free was the second sprint title for Laura Nicholls, ROW in 55.76 but again off the standard.
Yannick Lupien, GO, was the class of the field and the only one under the 50 second barrier. His 49.84 was a record for 15-17 boys.
The women's 200 fly was a race until the 150 between winner Jessica Deglau, PDSA and Andrea Schwartz, ROD, who was passed on the last 50 by Jennifer Button, ROW. Deglau already on the team, added this event, (her specialty) to her program in Sweden.
"I was hoping to get closer to the Canadian record of 2:10.56, but overall I was pleased," Deglau said. "I'll have another chance at Worlds."
The frustration ended for Shamek Pietucha, EKSC. He qualified first with 1:58.51, the only sub 2-min swim in the prelims. In the final he knew he would be strongly challenged by veteran Eddie Parenti, PDSA. He had the lead at the 50 and the 100 but at the 150 they were even. A better finish allowed Pietucha to win his first national title.
"I owe this win to a lot of very hard training," Pietucha said. "I missed this team in three other events so I was down to my last chance."
The men's 1500 free was a stroke-for-stroke battle between two evenly matched athletes at the peak of their form. Mark Johnston, BROCK, redeemed himself after missing the 400 free. His 15:08.66 was well under the standard. Brent Sallee, PDSA, who let Johnston take a body length lead with 200 remaining swam 15:12.23, also under the standard. It was a fitting outcome to what was a very exciting race.
Calgary amassed 1027.5 points to win the combined team championships. They won both men's and women's team titles and five of the six relays.