Hoping to make strides

Last year both men’s and women’s swimming teams broke a collective 12 school records

The swim team will next compete at the winter invitational at U of T this weekend.
The swim team will next compete at the winter invitational at U of T this weekend.
Supplied by Grace Chung

The Queen’s varsity swimming team is a prime example of how small-scale goals can lead to continuous success. 

On Friday, the Gaels will be in Toronto to compete in the University of Toronto Winter Invitational. As the Gaels prepare for the OUA Championships in February, head coach Ken Anderson feels that his team has worked hard enough to see success this weekend.

“They put in a lot of work in Scarborough at the new Pan Am pool, swimming doubles — two hours in the morning and two hours in the night,” said Anderson, who’s entering his sixth year as the head coach of the Gaels swimming program. 

Last year was a defiant record-breaking year for the Gaels. The men’s and the women’s squads each broke six school records; a total of 12 Queen’s swimming records broken in one month. 

The list of returning record-holding swimmers for the Gaels is long. From the women’s side, Jenny Zhang, Erin Lee, and Marija Robinson return for the Gaels. From the men’s side, the list of returning record-holders includes Steven Lee, Chris Anderson, Griffin Fitzhenry, Erik Wainman and Jeffery Turnock. 

Coach Anderson believes that this year’s team can witness some improvement in the OUA rankings this year. However, the road to improvement won’t be easy. 

“Three years ago we were tenth, then we were ninth, then we were eighth in the OUA,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, we can come seventh, but it’s going to be a real struggle this year, a couple of teams got some really good recruits.”

Aside from team success in the pool, Gaels’ swimmers are known for their leadership qualities.  The Gaels do a significant amount of their training with the Kingston Blue Marlins (KBM) — a swimming club that trains young Kingston athletes.  According to Anderson, the Gaels are fantastic role models for the KBM athletes. 

“They show them that there is sport after high school, and in some cases at the very high level. You don’t have to get to the Olympics at 16-years-old,” he said.

As for the upcoming meet in Toronto, Anderson is extremely confident going into it.

“Absolutely there will be more records broken,” he said. “We’re going to use this meet to find some speed that we can carry through to OUA Championships in early February.” 

Even if Queen’s doesn’t produce the next Penelope Oleksiak, the Gaels swimmers see their commitment to swimming as something more than just sport. 

For fourth-year computer science major Jeffery Turnock, the team mentality is something he’ll never forget. “Many first-year swimmers will be housemates when they move out of the residence. Upper years will run workshops and tutor their teammates.” 

In her first year, coming all the way from California, swimmer Brooke Donowho said it’s been a comfortable transition into the swimming program. 

“Deciding to join the Queen’s swimming team has been the best decision I’ve made thus far in my life,” Donowho said. “The spirit, support, and motivation of the team has helped me easily adjust my move from California to Canada.”

As for Friday’s meet, the Gaels seem properly prepared to perform at a high level. 

“The meet this weekend will be our first time racing since the training camp, so the team is really excited,” Turnock said. “We’re expecting to see a lot of good races.” 

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