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Swimmers race for OUA glory in nation's capital
February, 05, 2009

OTTAWA - Swimmers from 13 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) schools will converge on the University of Ottawa for the 2008-09 OUA Swimming Championships beginning this Friday.

The Toronto Varsity Blues are defending champions once again, having won eight consecutive women's titles and five successive men's crowns. The team features some recognizable athletes, as fourth-year swimmer Colin Russell (Burlington, Ont.) and freshman Luke Hall (Swaziland) both competed for their respective nations at the recent Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Russell participated in the 200 metre freestyle as well as the 4x200 metre and 4x100 metre freestyle relays. He recorded a fifth-place finish for Canada in the 4x200 race, competing against some of the best swimmers in the world. Hall swam the 50 metre freestyle and finished fourth in his heat.

Keith Beavers (Waterloo, Ont.) of the Waterloo Warriors also represented Canada at the last Olympics, placing seventh in the 200 metre individual medley. He is in his first season as a Warrior, working on his Master's in Cardiovascular Physiology. Fourth-year teammate Oleg Chernukhin (Fredericton, N.B.) was last year's male "Swimmer of the Meet" at the OUA championships, and will be looking for a repeat performance in Ottawa.

McMaster Marauders swimmer Chelsey Gotell (Antigonish, N.S.) also competed in Beijing with the Canadian Paralympic team and dominated the competition, winning f! ive medals and setting two world records in both the 200 metre individual medley and 100 metre backstroke. McMaster teammate Brooke Buckland (Hamilton, Ont.) was named female "Swimmer of the Meet" in 2006-07, and is coming off a gold medal performance in the 50 metre backstroke at the Eynon Championships in Guelph back in November. The host Ottawa Gee-Gees are led by fourth-year team captain Hans Fracke (Uxbridge, Ont.), whose uncle is hockey great Bobby Hull and cousin is Brett Hull, the co-general manager of the NHL's Dallas Stars. The Gee-Gees women's team has a promising rookie in freestyle swimmer Zoe Kamenz (Spencerville, Ont.) who has already qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Swimming Championships at the University of British Columbia at the end of the month.

The Guelph Gryphons will look to the leadership of fourth-year swimmers Scott Vandoomaal (Guelph, Ont.) and Laura Kendall (Elmira, Ont.). VanDoormaal won three OUA gold medals in the 200 metre fly, 200 metre backstroke and 1,500 metre freestyle at last year's championship. He was named male "Swimmer of the Meet" in 2006-07. Kendall is a three-time OUA bronze medalist.

Vandoormaal, Kendall and Kamenz, along with Varsity Blues swimmers Heather Maitland (Toronto, Ont.) and Mike Smerek (St. Catharines, Ont.) recently took part in an Ontario Future Stars tour of Zurich, Switzerland, a program initiated by Swim Ontario.

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks are led by Whitney Rich (Dorchester, Ont.) and Jennifer Dillon (Ottawa, Ont.). Rich has 12 first-place finishes, while Dillon has four to! p-three finishes this season. They are part of a medley relay team along with Amy Hucal (Windsor, Ont.) and Brittany Shaw (Kitchener, Ont.). The Laurier men are led by David Hughes (Waterloo, Ont.) and Nathan Frick (Devonshire, Bermuda).

Hayley Nell (London, Ont.) was last season's female "Swimmer of the Meet", and will lead the Western Mustangs into the pool as will teammate Bryn Jones (Newmarket, Ont.), who returns to the OUA championship after a one-year absence.

Other swimmers who have qualified for the CIS Swimming Championships include Holly Hopkins (Kapuskasing, Ont.) of the Brock Badgers in the 200 metre backstroke, Kyleigh Commito (Sudbury, Ont.), Tuan Ang Pham (Vietnam) and Kyle Moore (Brampton, Ont.) of the Laurentian Voyageurs, and Viktor Verblac (Woodbridge, Ont.) of the York Lions.

The Varsity Blues men's and women's teams enter the OUA Swimming Championships ranked No. 4 nationally. The Mustangs are No. 7 and No. 8 respectively, while the Gryphons men are ranked No. 5.

2009 OUA SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS (Montpetit Hall Pool, University of Ottawa)

Fri., Feb. 6: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Warm-up 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. - 200m free, 200m back, 100m breast, 100m fly, 50m back, 400m IM, 50m free 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - Warm-up 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.* - Finals: 200m free, 50m back, Awards, 100m breast, 100m fly, Awards, 400m IM, Awards, 4x100m medley

Sat., Feb 7: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Warm-up 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. - 50m breast, 400m free, 50m fly, 100m back, 100m free, 200m breast, 200m fly 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - Warm-up 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.* - Finals: 4x50m free, 400m free, Awards, 100m back, 100m free, Awards, 200m breast, 50m fly, Awards, 4x200m free

Sun., Feb 8: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Warm-up 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Timed Final 800m/1,500m (seeded over 17) 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. - Warm-up 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.* - Finals: 4x50m medley, 200m fly, 200m IM heats, 800m/1500m (seeded 9 to 16), Awards, 50m free, 800m/1,500m (seeded 1 to 8), 200m back, 50m breast, Awards, 4x100m free, Final Awards Presentation

* - finish times approximate