After a hectic season last year, the Dalhousie swim teams are living a normal life again.
Last season, as previously reported by the Gazette, the Dal swim teams had to train at the Centennial pool from December of 2016, because the Dalplex pool was trying to fix leaks. It meant their usual training time was cut in half, and they had to train between 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. With the leak situation cleared up, the Tigers are going back to business as usual.
Dalhousie swim Head Coach Lance Cansdale, said it is huge to have the Dalplex pool back.
“We have a chance to definitely improve upon last year, just because of our situation. Already in our make-up we are one place ahead,” said Cansdale.
Cansdale explained that usually they run 11 practices a week and four dry-land training exercises. However, the swimmers usually show up to eight practices and two dry-land sessions. That gives the athletes more room in the pool to train, which is important when most of them are training for events above 200 meters. At Centennial that wasn’t an option, so it was more crowded in the pool. Even though both teams won the AUS conference, Cansdale believes the team wasn’t prepared for the tougher competition at nationals.
This year, the men’s team will have last season’s AUS Swimmer of the Year Gavin Dyke returning for his fifth season. They will also have Alec Karlsen, who set an AUS record in the 400m last season, and strong swimmers in Morrgan Payne, Tyler Immel-Heron, and Quinn West, who all won gold at the AUS championships. They should contend for another conference championship this year.
The women’s team took a big blow in the July when superstar swimmer Phoebe Lenderyou decided to leave Dal in order to go back home to Newcastle, England and train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“When you lose your best swimmer, it changes the dynamic and personality of the team,” said Cansdale. “I feel like there is a hole, but there is a resolve and optimism in our girls team to step up and go, so I’m excited to see where that leads us.”
Cansdale believes Lise Cinq-Mars, Claire Yurkovic and recruit Isabel Sarty are the candidates to step up and replace Lenderyou’s presence on the team.
The team has an interesting group of first year swimmers this year. Cansdale said he had trouble getting recruits to come because he couldn’t guarantee the leaks would be fixed at the pool. He has seven walk-ons, which is unusual for Dal, but he thinks they will still be good.
“I feel like we are actually better than we were last year, potentially. Potential and 25 cents it isn’t even a cup of coffee, its kind of a dirty word,” said Cansdale. “But we have that in the water right now. Now it’s my job and the coaching staff’s job to mold it into something that can gather momentum as the season goes on and hopefully perform on point when it comes February, whether at the AUS or U SPORTS championships in Toronto.”
Cansdale doesn’t know for certain how he feels the swim team will do this year because he hasn’t seen any races yet, so he doesn’t have anything to compare his team with. Cansdale’s main focus is making sure the athletes are faster swimmers and then let the rest take care of itself.
“Yeah we would like to win, we would like to do well at nationals,” said Cansdale. “The thing that we can control is making sure we are better at the end of the year than when we were starting at the beginning of the year. Then we will let the chips fall where they may.”
The team is riding two big AUS championship streaks heading into the year. The women can win their 17th straight AUS championship, while the men can reach the 20th straight championship milestone in the AUS. Cansdale wants his team to focus more on improving as swimmers, instead of the end result, so that the season doesn’t seem like a waste of a year if they don’t win.
“For us, it’s making sure the process is adhered to and then ultimately we come out and be successful. So far it has been successful in my first five years, and I think we can be successful again.”