Swimming team picks up three medals at OUA Championships

Two Gaels qualify for nationals

The women’s swimming team finished eighth overall, and the men’s sixth.
The women’s swimming team finished eighth overall, and the men’s sixth.
Steven Leithwood
The Queen’s swimming team didn’t quite blow their competition out of the water this weekend—but they came close.
At the swimming OUA Championships this past weekend, hosted by Brock University in St. Catherine’s, Ont., the Gaels saw steady improvement over previous seasons’ performances. 
After securing eighth place finishes in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the men’s team finished sixth while the women landed in eighth for the second consecutive year.
Currently, the Queen’s swimming roster has 20 women and 11 men—18 women and all 11 men competed at 
the OUA Championships. 
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues, who claimed first place, have owned the top of the men’s leaderboard for the past 15 years, and the women’s for the past five. 
Fifth-year Steven Lee, who won two silver medals over the weekend, told The Journal that the talent gap between surrounding universities was smaller this year than in previous seasons. 
“Normally, there’s a bigger difference between us and the team that’s one spot ahead of us,” he said. “This year, on the men’s side, we were only about 20 points [behind], which would be one first-place finish away from moving into fifth.”
In his five years at Queen’s, Lee said this year’s iteration was the most positive experience he’s had.
“In terms of the team atmosphere, we had the best feel that we’ve had,” Lee said. “Everybody loved each other. [There was] lots of cheering.”
In the men’s division, medals were also won by second-year Victor Uemura, who took home a bronze in the 200m individual medley, and Lee, with a pair of silvers in the 50m and 100m breaststroke races.  Lee’s performance qualified for the U Sports Championships, which take place in just over a week. 
Lee also earned an OUA medal in his second year—he’s raced the past four at Queen’s—but said that he’s consistently come a spot off the podium in his races since. 
“It’s really nice to sneak in and get a medal this time,” he said. “There were two guys in the OUA who are very fast who graduated last year [and], with them gone, my fourth place moved into second.” 
Lee also raced in the 200m breaststroke, but secured just a fourth-place finish.
On the women’s side, first-year Madison Otsuki qualified for U Sports in the 50m backstroke. She didn’t earn herself a spot on the podium, but her heat was fast enough to qualify for the national championships next week. 
Lee said last year’s roster had few graduating students, allowing the program to build on its previous performances along with a crop of strong recruits—Otsuki and Uemura included. 
“Everyone already had a good base,” he said. “We definitely helped each other out, worked a lot together, and attendance was better this year than before.”
Historically, part of the problem for Queen’s swimming has stemmed from their recruiting, according to Lee. The swimming team is a varsity club—not a varsity team—meaning they receive a lower amount of funding. 
As captain, Lee’s assisted first-hand with bringing prospective members to the team, but has struggled in such pursuits. 
“Unfortunately, when we talk about joining the Queen’s swim team, [recruits] do research and find out we’re a club,” Lee explained. “They kind of jump to the assumption that we’re not very competitive because of that.” 
Clearly, that’s not the case.
“We still go to U Sports, we still work just as hard, we still go to the pool seven days a week,” Lee said.
Lee and Otsuki will represent Queen’s at the U Sports Championships Feb. 21 to 23 hosted by the University of British Columbia.


February 21, 2019

Victor Uemura is in second year, not first year. He also did not qualify for U Sports.

The Journal regrets the error.

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