Year in and year out the University of Calgary Dinos maintain a strong swim team composed of a number of high calibre athletes who challenge for the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union Championship. Former Dinos such as Curtis Myden, Mark Tewksbury and Tom Ponting moved on from the Dinos to become successful Olympians.
While this is a great progression for the individual swimmers, it often puts a lot of pressure on the Dinos varsity team. The Olympics are just around the corner and according to Dinos swimming assistant coach Bill Humby that makes it a tough season for the Dinos.
"You see, this is an Olympic year so a number of our top swimmers who were with us last year have taken a year off from university to focus on swimming and having success in the Olympics," assessed Humby. "While it is great for them, and we love to see it too, it takes some of the strongest swimmers away from our collegiate team."
Despite the loss of some exceptional athletes, Humby remains confident that the Dinos will again challenge for top spot in the CIAU. Headlining the men's side this year is captain Joe Molten. The Environmental Chemistry major was a medallist last year in a couple of events at the CIAU. championships, including a second-place finish to Myden in the 200m backstroke.
"Now that Myden is gone, I expect to be winning the gold this year," explained Molten. "I look to improve in all my events and help this young team be competitive. We lost a few key guys to the Olympics and graduation, but we brought in 11 rookies to the team who are improving and looking good."
Former University of New Brunswick standout Josh Ballem is swimming for the Dinos this year and is another key swimmer about whom coach Humby is excited. He was a medallist in the 50m butterfly at this year's summer nationals.
"[Molten. and Ballem] have been national finalists and are in contention for a spot on the Olympic team," says Humby. Also on Humby's list is Bo Simpson, another CIAU. medallist at last year's championships and a swimmer that the Dinos need to produce some winning results.
"On the men's side we don't have as many high-end standouts as we have had in the past due to the Olympics, but we still have a great team and we fully expect to contend with the top three teams in the CIAU. And maintain our position as a top-three team in the nation," added Humby.
"The University of British Columbia edged us out for first place in the nationals last year and they will be our toughest competition again this year, they are a very strong team"
Humby will find out just how good the Dinos are at the end of February when they head to the University of Guelph to compete in the CIAU. Championships
If you are looking to check out some of the swimming action here at the University of Calgary, you won't even have to leave the comfort of your own home. On Mon., Nov. 22 there was a "Swimming Skins Event" at Lindsay Park in which a number of the top Dinos and some swimmers from the USA competed head-to-head for cash money. The event has been taped and will allegedly air on local TV on Dec. 11. If you are not as lazy as I am you may want to head down to the actual pool and check out the U of C Swim Club Grand Prix from Jan. 7-9 on campus.