Swim Hawks use WLU Invitational as a tune up

Laurier hosts annual invitational in preparation for OUA’s in two weeks


Photo by Paige Bush/Staff Photographer
Photo by Paige Bush/Staff Photographer

For many swimmers, the Wilfrid Laurier University invitational was a chance to qualify for the Ontario University Athletics invitational coming up at Western University in two weeks, but for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks swim team, the meet on Sunday was just a tune up.

The Hawks, who are coming off of an intense training program, used the event to see where they were at, as well as how they respond to the intense training load courtesy of new swimming head coach Hans Witolla. The event brought the McMaster Marauders, York Lions and the Waterloo Warriors to their home pool on Jan. 31.

The Hawks also got to have a little bit of fun while they were at it.

“People were swimming in events that weren’t necessarily their best events,” third-year swimmer Kate Vanderbeek said. “Kind of a chance to swim something else, have some fun.”

Vanderbeek, who usually swims the 50-metre backstroke, the 100-metre backstroke and the 200-metre backstroke, swam in three events during the invitational. On top of the 200-metre backstroke, Vanderbeek also swam the 200-metre individual medley and the 200-metre freestyle.

She won gold in all three of her events, swimming times of 2:21.78, 2:27.21 and 2:12:66 in the three events respectively.

Witolla used the meet as an opportunity to see what the Hawks needed to work on before they head off to the OUA invitational.

“I was trying to see where the holes were, the things that they have to fix up between now and OU[A]’s,” Witolla said. “It was more or less what we need to focus on, do we need more rest, do we need to focus on our turns. How many technical things do we still have to work on in the next two weeks?”

Vanderbeek wasn’t the only swimmer who shined at the event. In a sport that’s built around achieving lifetime bests, rookies Matt Kotasinski and Tam Kenney improved on their 50-metre fly, Max Hughes won his heat during the 400-metre Individual Medley and Kaz Kamiya improved on his 200-metre backstroke.

Fourth-year swimmer Richard Naylor, who usually specializes in 200-metre and 100-metre backstroke, also scored a lifetime best on his 200-metre backstroke. Naylor said around this time of the year, most Hawks are not swimming their best races. He was happy with how the Hawks performed despite their intense power phase.

“Today there was actually some people who had some lifetime bests, people who were swimming really well,” he said. “I’m feeling really good about the team.”

As a swimmer who has already qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport nationals, held at the end of February, Vanderbeek used the invitational as well as the next two big events to qualify for a much bigger goal.

“It takes a little bit of pressure. OUA’s is the last chance to qualify for [nationals] for everybody, so the fact that I’ve already done it takes a little bit of pressure off there,” Vanderbeek said. “But I’m working towards qualifying for the Olympic trials, which is at the end of March, so I have OUA’s and [nationals] to be able to do that. I have two more chances.”

“I won’t be fully rested for OUA’s. I will be fully rested and swim my fastest at [nationals], my final prep for [nationals] will be at OUA’s.”

With the Hawks’ focus now shifting towards the Western meet, Witolla is hoping the Hawks aim towards getting second swims at OUA’s and getting lifetime bests.

“The focus is on everybody doing personal best times going into that meet,” he said.



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