Dal swimmers looking to continue AUS dominance

Dal swimmers looking to continue AUS dominance

Contenders look to make splash, unseat powerful Tigers


By Corey LeBlanc


(HALIFAX, N.S.)– The Dalhousie Tigers – defending conference champions – will host the 2023-24 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Swimming Championships, from Feb. 23-25, at Dalplex on campus.

Both varsity teams have dominated the pool for more than two decades; the women will be seeking their 22nd straight AUS banner, while the men will be vying for their 24th in the past 25 conference campaigns.

In 2023, Acadia and Memorial secured second and third, respectively, in both the women’s and men’s competitions.

UNB and Mount Allison round out both fields for the year-end meet.

It has been a case of reloading – not rebuilding – for the Tigers, with the addition of 17 new student-athletes to the roster this season.

“We have had a great year – my hope is to continue on the same track,” Dalhousie head coach Lance Cansdale said. “We have had a great cycle of training, so our expectation is to defend our titles. That being said, all the other teams in the AUS have added to their talent levels.”

In recent years, Cansdale offered, each program has shown greater depth while boasting quality student-athletes.

“I expect great depth and competition for the medals, the finals and even the ‘B’ finals,” he added.

Cansdale said he is “really happy with the quality of our racing.”

He added, “We took an approach to try and be fast at all our competitions.”

Along with the push to repeat as AUS champions, Cansdale noted the finale will mark the close of varsity careers for a pair of Dalhousie’s “all-time best student-athletes.”

He added, “It will be hard to replace the quality, records and leadership of Noah Mascoll-Gomes (St. John’s, Antigua) and Reagan Crowell (Lakeville, NB).”

Heading into the two-day championships, the Acadia Axewomen and Axemen – once again – are expected to challenge the Tigers for conference supremacy.

“It has been an exciting year,” Acadia head coach Kris Bell said, while noting the performance of “extraordinary rookies” with the program.

For the first time in several years, as he indicated before the season, the Axewomen and Axemen boasted “full rosters.”

When asked about goals for the championship weekend, he offered, “We will continue to do what we always do – celebrate our successes and compete.”

Bell noted that there is an element of sadness heading into the weekend, considering the championships will serve as the final time in Acadia colours for veteran stalwarts Gordon Shortt (Simcoe, ON) and Victoria Flowerday (Toronto, ON).

Memorial head coach Chris Roberts said the Sea-Hawks’ season has gone “very, very well.”

He added, “We are very excited and ready to compete this weekend.”

Noting that Memorial has a smaller team this season – only 21 swimmers – Roberts expects his student-athletes to be very competitive in most events.

He pointed out the goal – for his swimmers – is to, at least, compete for bronze.

“We certainly expect to be in the medal hunt for relays,” Roberts said.

Despite facing challenges this season, including with their training facility, he offered, “We have been making the most of it.”

With each passing season, UNB and Mount Allison continue to make strides in AUS competition.

In the 2023-24 season-opening meet last October – the 14th Jack Scholz AUS Invitational at Acadia – Dalhousie (1st), Acadia (2nd) and Memorial (3rd) reached the podium in both the women’s and men’s competitions.

One month later – at the Kemp-Fry Invitational at Dalplex, the venue for this weekend’s championships – the women and men finished in the same order.

Season highlights for the Reds and Mounties came at a pair of meets hosted by UNB – the Amby Legere Invitational and UNB Invitational – with Mount Allison (women) and UNB (men) capturing third place in both competitions.

Swimmers who achieve the required times this weekend, or have met the standard in previous meets this season, will move on to the national stage.

The U SPORTS Swimming Championships – hosted by McGill University – are scheduled for March 7-9 at Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre in Montreal.


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