By Earl Zukerman
Marc-Andre Benoit, a sophomore from Montreal, won four gold medals and a pair of silvers as the McGill swim team posted some terrific results at the AUS Invitational, a two-day meet held in Halifax over the weekend.
In all, eight McGill swimmers qualified for the 2013 CIS national championships in Calgary (Feb. 21-23), bringing the team total to 17 qualifiers at just the halfway mark of the season.
“I was very happy with the team’s performance and to have eight more CIS qualifiers but I know that this is a team that has the potential to have many more,” said Peter Carpenter, head coach at McGill. “There are at least five other members who are within two per cent of the standard based on lifetime best swims this past weekend. This puts them in a very good position to make a run at the standard after training camp in Barbados this winter.”
Redmen teammates Pierre-Alexandre Renaud, a junior from Laval, Que., and Michael Luck, a sophomore from Beaconsfield, Que., each won three races and registered three second-place finishes.
Benoit led a 1-2-3 finish for McGill in the men’s 100-metre butterfly, ahead of Renaud and Steven Bielby (who was not shaved down at the meet). His time of 54.56 seconds erased the school mark of 54.70 set by Joe Toops at the CIS championship last year. Benoit also finished first in the 50 fly (25.08), 100 freestyle (50.70) and 4×100 freestyle relay (3:22.71).
Renaud smashed a McGill mark in the 200 fly and is believed to be the first swimmer from a Quebec university ever to break the two-minute barrier with his swim of 1:59.75, which surpassed the school standard (2:01.91) set by Steven Bielby in 2011.
His winning time in the 200 free (1:50.61) was the fastest in the CIS this year and the best McGill effort in that event since 1997 when Sebastian Paddington registered a school record in 1:50.19. Renaud also won the 400 free with a CIS season high of 3:53.77 and was also part of the winning 4×100 freestyle relay.
Luck won his races in the 50 breast (29.33), 50 free (23.39) and 4×100 free relay.
On the women’s side, freshman Katie Caldwell of White Rock, B.C., claimed two golds and four silvers, while Taryne Landry, a sophomore from North Vancouver, collected five silvers and a bronze.
Caldwell shattered a 15-year-old school record in the 400 individual medley with a winning time of 4:48.82, which surpassed Holly McComb’s 1997 mark of 4:50.64. She came close to surpassing another McGill record, winning the 200 IM in 2:14.62. The school standard is 2:14.21 set in 1997 by Olympian Marianne Limpert.
Among McGill’s new CIS qualifiers were Luck (50 breast, 29.33) and Benoit (100 free, 50.20), plus Jeong-Wan Hong (200 breast, 2:38.52), Laura Mendonca (50 breast, 33.81), Erik Cheng (50 breast, 29.44; personal best), Monica Mastromatteo (100 fly, 1:03.65), Pascale De Repentigny-Prud’homme (200 breast, 2:37.76) and Martin Matuszczak (200 breast, 2:19.74; PB).
Those who previously qualified for Nationals were Bielby, Renaud, Caldwell, Landry, Rayven Snodgrass, Grace Quinn, Jennifer Darling, Sophie Overney-Ragan and Valerie De Broux.