It’s been a heck of a transition for Noah Mascoll-Gomes, a new addition to the Dalhousie University Tigers swimming team.
Mascoll-Gomes is already an Atlantic University Sport (AUS) mainstay. He not only swam for the Mount Allison University Mounties for two years but captured conference freestyle wins in both 2019 and 2020. Joining Dal in time for the 2021-2022 season, he used the COVID-19 break to train and reflect, as there was no season.
But thanks to a hot start to the season and individual wins in every AUS meet, Mascoll-Gomes helped lead the Dal men to their first AUS banner since 2019.
He was named the AUS male swimmer of the year prior to the championships. In what has been a strange season, he said, winning the individual honour was the most surprising.
“Normally, the AUS gives out awards at a banquet. But I found out from a notification from Instagram,” Mascoll-Gomes said of the honour. He’s no stranger to receiving awards the more “normal” way. He won the same award in 2020 and was honoured as the AUS men’s rookie of the year the season before.
But he feels just as good about this year’s accomplishment.
“I feel like I was able to make the most of my opportunities this season,” Mascoll-Gomes said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t take anything for granted given I had just spent a whole year not racing. I wanted to make the most of every opportunity and give 100 per cent. It didn’t even matter what the results were.”
Joining a winning team
They were led by the AUS swimmer of the year on the women’s side: Reagan Crowell. The Dalhousie Gazette contacted Crowell about the honour, but she was unavailable for an interview due to preparations for the U Sports championships.
As for the men’s team, their banner on March 13 pushed their winning streak to one year. It’s hardly even a streak, but one the team is excited to get going again. They had a 21-year streak going until 2020, when the Acadia University Axemen beat out the Tigers at the conference championships.
Mascoll-Gomes is new to the Dal-Acadia rivalry but got caught up in it quickly.
“It is contagious. The first thing some of my teammates said when I joined [Dal] was, ‘We’ve got to get that banner back.’ That’s the first thing they said at my first practice,” he laughed. “It’s something that’s been on our minds the entire season. I’m happy we were able to use that rivalry in a healthy way.”
Dal used that motivation to build up steam early and often. They took both the men’s and women’s titles at every individual meet in the conference this season. For Mascoll-Gomes, he said he started to hit his stride at the Amby Legere Invitational at the University of New Brunswick.
“Once you get the momentum going, it’s hard for it to stop,” he said. “It was the second meet of the season and I felt training was going well. I felt the times posted there, not just for myself but the team as a whole, was a good checkpoint for what we were about to do.”
Relax and reset
As mentioned, Mascoll-Gomes didn’t compete at all from the end of the 2019-2020 season until the current season began. The time off allowed him to reflect on his swimming career. He came out of it more engaged in the sport than ever.
“I took a lot of time off. I felt that was a good time for me to evaluate who I was as a person outside of swimming,” he said. “It also made me realize I had a passion for this sport. And I did because I had that eagerness to get back into the water.
“I feel that was a big learning experience for me. The main takeaway was that the mind is a lot stronger than the body.”
Competing in freestyle races of different distances and the 4×200-metre team relay, Mascoll-Gomes is going to have as busy of a U Sports tournament as he had an AUS season. He qualified for several of those competitions nationally throughout the season.
Now, in his first national meet with his new team, Mascoll-Gomes is out to prove the Tigers are one of the best programs in the country.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my university career,” he said. “Hopefully, I secure spots in some ‘A’ finals. Once you make the finals, anything can happen at that point.”