By Earl Zukerman
Steven Bielby, a 20-year-old McGill engineering sophomore from Pointe Claire, Que., won one gold, a silver and a pair of bronze medals at the CIS swim championships over the weekend, a three-day meet held at U of T’s Varsity Pool.
Bielby finished atop the podium in the grueling men’s 1500-metre freestyle, completing the marathon race in 15 minutes, 18.09 seconds, destroying his own school record set last year (15:22.71). He was second in the 400 individual medley (4:14.72) and scored third-place finishes in both the 200 IM (2:01.11) and 400 freestyle (3:51:00).
“I pretty much did what I was hoping to do here,” said Bielby, who had a somewhat disappointing regular season after striking gold three times at the CIS championships last year. “This meet went well for me after a tough season of trying to balance five classes with a physically demanding workout schedule. It was a bit of a learning curve for me this year but worked out well in the end.”
Bielby earned all-Canadian honours for the second straight year and qualified for an eight-man squad of CIS swimmers that will be going to the Mare Nostrum Series, a high-profile European tour of World Cup meets, in June.
He now owns four CIS gold medals over his two years at McGill, tying the school career record held by current teammate Francois Castonguay (two golds in 2005 and two more in 2006). Bielby’s seven CIS medals overall is the third highest career total ever by a McGill male swimmer, behind Alexandre Pichette’s 10 (2-3-5) and David Allard’s eight (1-1-6).
“Steven was on a tougher workout schedule this year and never really backed off the training,” said McGill head coach Peter Carpenter. “But we tapered his workouts the last few weeks to give him more rest for this meet. His results here may have caught a few people by surprise this weekend but after winning seven medals over two years. I don’t think he will be catching anyone by surprise next year.”
McGill placed 12th of 19 teams overall with 105 points in the men’s division and 13th of 20 with 45 points on the women’s side. At the Nationals last year, the Redmen scored 100 points and the Martlets had 32.
“The team did as well as I expected,” said Carpenter, in his first year as head coach. “This meet was substantially deeper and faster than last year’s event. “We had a number of personal bests, ended up with a few more qualifiers for the consolation round than we had last year, our relays swam faster times and we scored more points than last year’s championships. Overall, I was happy with the progress we made.”
The Calgary Dinos captured both the men’s and women’s team titles for the first time in school history. The U of C women did so in convincing fashion and put their stamp on the event with a new Canadian record of 4:03.28 in the final event of the meet, the 4×100 medley relay.
Complete results can be found online at: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/swim