Olivia Feschuk and Geraint Berger have taken their talents to South Street.
Both are successful AUS swimmers who previously competed for Mount Allison University. This year they transferred to Dalhousie University for their final year in order to pursue master’s programs.
“It has been a really nice mix of both change and familiarity,” said Feschuk.
“New faces but same old swimming.” –– Berger
Both athletes give major boosts to Dal’s swim program. At the Kemp-Fry Invitational, one of Dal’s biggest meets of the season (after the AUS championships Feb. 8-10) Feschuk finished third in the 200-metre breaststroke, first in the 200-metre medley and qualified for nationals in the 200-metre backstroke.
Berger had been ineligible to compete until January because he was a lab technician during the fall semester, not technically a student. He entered into his pharmacology program in January and became eligible to compete again. In his one meet before the AUS championships, Berger finished second in the 50-metre butterfly, first in the 100-metre backstroke and freestyle, he also anchored the 200-metre medley relay team.
Dal’s swimming Head Coach Lance Cansdale discusses what Feschuk and Berger bring to the team.
“Olivia is a pretty true worker; she is business like, more times than not in a real positive frame of mind and she is a positive talker, which is a really good help. The athletes that are here know how good she has been and she is doing her master’s degree, so she can put money where her mouth is.”
“Geraint is a sprinter, he is a powerful young man and he comes in and has the ability to anchor our relays, he is our fastest sprinter boy right now. It allows us to have a little more flexibility.”
Outside of the pool, they’ve both made a good transition to Dal. The AUS is a small swimming conference with just six teams competing, and both Feschuk and Berger knew some of their new teammates when they arrived. They’re also both from Halifax and were coached by Cansdale as teenagers with the Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club, so they knew his coaching style. Both say they’re comfortable with school and Cansdale gives them opportunities to train when it works best with their schedules.
“The opportunity to coach them again is a really nice treat,” says Cansdale. “They’re very coachable athletes, they listen to you and they give feedback.”
They have both enjoyed the team spirit. At the Kemp-Fry Invitational, no one was cheering louder for their teammates then Dal.
In the week leading up to the AUS championships, the women’s team play secret psych. Each player is secretly given a teammate they need to psych up for a week before the meet. That can include providing their favourite food in their locker, writing positive notes, making positive videos about them, or even getting a life-sized cardboard cutout of them.
“The excitement is contagious,” says Feschuk.
Dal has a chance to defend both their men’s and women’s AUS swimming titles, something neither Berger nor Feschuk have won. Because Mount Allison is a small school, they never had a chance to win a championship before; they are excited by that possibility.
“It’s a whole different approach to the meet,” said Berger. “You’re racing for place rather then for personal time at Mount A. Here you’re racing for your teammates.”
He talks about his first relay experience at Dal.
“I was at a different level of nervousness for a relay which is weird because I have been in so many relays, but I had a chance to win at a relay which I haven’t had before.”
Both Berger and Feschuk started their swimming careers in Halifax and now it will end in Halifax.
“It has been really wonderful, I haven’t enjoyed swimming this much in a long time,” says Feschuk. “I really love the people on the team.”
“It’s been a really nice way to go out.”