By Earl Zukerman
McGill’s Pierre-Alexandre Renaud claimed three gold medals and one silver en route to earning swimmer-of-the-year honours at the RSEQ swim championships held over the weekend in Sherbrooke.
McGill, which finished second to the conference champion Montreal Carabins in both the men’s and women’s divisions, registered a combined 30 podium finishes over the three-day meet. The Redmen claimed three golds, six silvers and three bronzes, while the Martlets won one, eight and nine, respectively.
“We accomplished our primary goal of the weekend by finishing ahead of Laval on both sides,” said McGill head coach Peter Carpenter, who conceded all season that the Montreal Carabins would be difficult to unseat. “The last time we did that was in 1999,”
Renaud, a six-foot, 165-pound sprinter, became the fourth McGill male in five years to earn the conference’s top individual award, a feat achieved three times by the recently-graduated Steven Bielby. The honour is based on FINA points accumulated over the three best swims during the season.
Renaud, the team captain and an economics senior, set a conference record time of 2:00.23 to capture the 200-metre butterfly, which merited swim-of-the-meet honours, based on total points earned. The old record was 2:00.60.
“It was by far the race of the meet,” said Carpenter. “PA was trailing the entire way until the last stroke, where he out-touched Chris Bezeau from U de M. Both swimmers were under the RSEQ record and it is hard to put into words just how amazing that swim was.”
Renaud also finished atop the podium in the 400 freestyle in 3:55.24, which ranked as the third-best point total of the weekend. Those two results, combined with his time in a 200 free from earlier in the season, gave him enough points over his top three swims to finish first overall in a strong field of challengers, including Canadian Olympian Charles Francis of the Carabins.
However, Renaud finished second in points at the championship meet with 723.5 and was edged out for swimmer-of-the-meet honours by Frederic Leblanc (760.5) of the Carabins.
Renaud’s third gold medal came as an anchor of the 4×200 free relay, which touched the wall in 7:35.08. Other members of that winning quartet included Patrick Mazurek and Loic Chaubet. Renaud’s silver medal was in the 4×100 freestyle relay, which finished second in 3:27.82.
Gold medalists automatically merit conference all-star status.
Katie Caldwell snared McGill’s lone gold medal on the women’s side, winning the 200 individual medley in 2:13.97. A sophomore majoring in international development studies, she also posted three silver medal finishes and a pair of bronzes. The 5-foot-9, middle-distance specialist was second in the 400 IM (4:41.86), the 4×100 IM and the 4×200 medley relay. Her third-place finishes were in the 200 back and 800 free.
McGill added two more names to their list of CIS qualifiers with Grace Quinn making it on the women’s side and David Whiteside reaching the standard in the men’s division.
Quinn, a physical education junior from Knowlton, Que., qualified in the 50 backstroke, while leading off the 200 medley relay. completing her leg in 30.18 to beat the standard by two-hundreths of a second.
Whiteside, an engineering freshman from Burlington, Ont., qualified in the 400 free with his bronze medal time of 4:00.23. He out-touched Laval’s Quentin Martin on the last stroke, edging him out by .03.
“I expected more qualifiers and had athletes who expected more,” said Carpenter. “To have quite a few people miss by so little is a little heart-breaking but such is the nature of sport.”
McGill has now qualified 18 swimmers for the CIS championships, slated to be held at the University of Toronto, Feb. 20-22. Making the grade for the men is Pierre-Alexandre Renaud (200 fly, 400 free), Michael Luck (50 free, 50 breast ), Erik Cheng (50 breast), Marc-Andre Benoit (200 IM) and David Whiteside (400 free).
Reaching the CIS standard on the women’s side are 13 Martlets, including Simone Cseplo (50 free, 200 free), Katie Caldwell (200 fly), Jeong-Wan Hong (200 breast), Valerie De Broux (200 breast), Rayven Snodgrass (50 back), Christine Aglot (50 back), Sophie Overney-Ragan (50 fly), Jennifer Darling (200 back), Adriane Lui (100 fly), Fanny Gervais-Cartier (400 IM), Rebecca Gibson (50 fly), Taryne Landry (50 free) and Grace Quinn (50 back).
For complete results, go here.