McGill’s Secchi scores national swimmer-of-the-year award

Stellar performance by 21-year-old management senior guides McGill Redbirds to a third-place finish at national championships
Clement Secchi led all swimmers at the U SPORTS championships winning four gold medals and a pair of silvers

Clement Secchi of McGill was named swimmer of the year at the U SPORTS championships, a three-day meet hosted by Université Laval over the weekend. The 21-year-old management senior from Aix-en-Provence, in France, led all swimmers with four gold medals and a pair of silvers, while breaking three national records and guiding the McGill Redbirds to a third-place finish.

The UBC Thunderbirds finished atop the men’s podium, while the Toronto Varsity Blues won the women’s competition for the first time since 2016. Three more records were improved upon on Saturday for nine records set over the weekend in the PEPS pool.

“I’m very happy since it was a great battle to the end with Sebastian Paulins (Western) and Blake Tierney (UBC),” said Secchi. “It’s also great to get this award. I was very far from this four years ago so this makes me very happy.”

On Thursday, the 5-foot-11 sprinter merited All-Canadian honours after breaking the 100m butterfly national mark with a gold medal time of 50.99 seconds and guided the 4×100 free relay to gold in 3:14.37. Secchi completed the evening with a great effort to anchor McGill’s 4×200 freestyle relay from fourth place to a silver medal (1:44.71).

On Day 2 of the meet, Secchi took care of the 50m butterfly, setting a record at 23.23 seconds in the preliminary round, before improving it in the final with a time of 23.05. Secchi later came five-hundredths of a second away from setting another record in the 200m butterfly, dominating the event with a time of 1:54.61 to add a fourth gold medal to his weekend’s total.

The Thunderbirds clinched their 19th national title, tying Toronto as the most decorated men’s swimming program in the country. UBC completed all 38 events on the weekend with 1,207 points, way ahead of the Calgary Dinos (917.50) and the McGill Redbirds (757). In the women’s competition, Toronto picked up 1,359.50 points at the conclusion of the 38-event program, comfortably ahead of UBC (1,039), Calgary (888) and McGill (750). This was Toronto’s 16th title in the program’s history.

The most decorated individual athlete on the weekend was UBC’s Danielle Hanus, who unsurprisingly won female swimmer of the year award after collecting five gold medals (including the 200m backstroke, and the 4x100m medley relay on Saturday) along with a silver medal.

Lethbridge’s Apollo Hess started the day with a new best time of 26.74 seconds in the 50m breaststroke. Later in the evening, the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year winner improved his personal best and a Canadian senior record with a time of 26.65 seconds.

In the same event on the women’s side, Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog improved a mark she previously shared with Calgary’s Fiona Doyle (30.70), stopping the watch at 30.45 seconds for a fourth gold medal at these championships.

The UBC Thunderbirds improved their own U SPORTS record of 3:32.36 in the men’s 4x100m medley relay going back to 2017. On their last race of the season this weekend, Tayden De Pol, Keir Ogilvie, Justice Migneault and Blake Tierney contributed to the time of 3:29.74.

Female Rookie of the Year Emma O’Croinin of UBC won the first event of the evening, the 800m freestyle, touching the wall in 8:33.35. It was Emma’s fourth gold medal at these Championships, to add to her two silver medals.