McGill swimming duo to compete for Canada at FISU World University Games in Russia
Steven Bielby and Katie Caldwell, two athletes from McGill University, are among a 38-member roster named Thursday by Canadian Interuniversity Sport, in conjunction with Swimming Canada, to represent Canada in swimming at the 2013 FISU Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia (July 6-17).
This will be the third appearance at the world university games for Bielby, a fifth-year engineering senior from Pointe Claire, Que., who previously competed for Canada at the FISU Games in both Serbia (2009) and China (2011). This past season, Bielby won a pair of gold medals at the CIS championships to merit all-Canadian honours for the fifth time. He won the 200-metre individual medley in two minutes flat, breaking both his own school and RSEQ conference record of 2:00.24. He also claimed the 400 IM (4:15.14) and became the most decorated swimmer in McGill history with 13 career CIS medals, which includes a school record eight golds, one silver and four bronzes.
Caldwell, an elementary education freshman from White Rock, B.C., had an impressive debut campaign at McGill in 2012-13, earning rookie-of-the-year and swimmer-of-the-year in the RSEQ conference, where she also merited all-star status after smashing a pair of Quebec university records and racking up six medals, three of them golden. The 18-year-old clocked 2:11.20 in the 200m IM and 4:37.01 in the 400 IM, both McGill records and CIS-best times this season. At the CIS championships, the middle-distance specialist merited all-Canadian second-team honours after winning silver in the 200 IM (2:13.25) and bronze in the 400 IM (4:44.83).
Highlighting the red and white roster are no less than eight members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic team, including Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., Savannah King of Vernon, B.C., Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., Katerine Savard of Cap-Rouge, Que., Tera Van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., Tommy Gossland of Nanaimo, B.C., Alec Page of Cortes Island, B.C., and David Sharpe of Halifax.
MacLean, a University of Georgia student, reached the 400-metre freestyle final in London, finishing in seventh place.
Horner, who stars at the University of Victoria, and King, the reigning two-time CIS female swimmer of the year from UBC, also wore the Maple Leaf at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Van Beilen, also of UBC, and Sharpe, who swims for Dalhousie, are among 14 returning athletes who competed at the last Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China, in 2011. Six of them – including Sharpe - will make their third straight FISU Games appearance, a streak that started in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia.
No sport has brought more Universiade glory to Canada over the years. Since the inaugural biennial competition was held in 1959, Canadian swimmers have won 98 medals, 21 of them gold – both record tallies for the country.
Canada returned from Shenzhen with three podium finishes, all of them silver medals, including Van Beilen in the 50 and 100 breaststroke events, as well as Hilary Caldwell, a University of Calgary standout from London, Ont., in the 200 backstroke.
“We have a really strong team, with 14 members of the FISU contingent going on to the FINA world championships in Barcelona immediately afterwards. There’s a mix of experience and first-time senior team members on the team and we’re looking forward to representing Canada,” said John Atkinson, high performance director for Swimming Canada. “The event has grown over the years and is now an exceptionally high standard event. It’s certainly played its part in the development of many Olympians. It is a great opportunity for these swimmers to experience a world-class competition in a multi-sport village environment, which will set them up well for the quad as we move towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”
The Canadian squad heading to Kazan is comprised of 19 women and 19 men, including 30 student-athletes from CIS universities, five from NCAA schools and three from the Quebec Cegep system.
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues lead the way with six selections. UBC, UVic and Calgary follow with five representatives apiece.
The Universiade swimming competition runs from July 10-17. The FINA world championships in Barcelona follow from July 28 to August 4.
NOTES: Kelly Aspinall of Nanoose Bay, B.C., wrapped up his exceptional university career at UBC this season with CIS male-swimmer-of-the-year honours... Gossland, his former teammate at UBC, had claimed the award in 2011-12... Canada had its best Universiade performance in swimming at the 1993 games in Buffalo, USA, where the team captured 15 medals, six of them gold... The Canucks’ second best tallies came in Sheffield, England, in 1991 and in Edmonton in 1983 as they claimed three victories and 14 medals on both occasions.