A dominant victory against Wilfrid Laurier University and strong performances at Brock and Western universities have made for a strong year so far for the Waterloo Warrior swimming program.
The men’s team has come away with victories at all three of its meets while the women’s team picked up a win against Laurier, a second place at the Brock tri-meet right behind the McMaster team, and a narrow loss to Western.
Head coach Jacqueline Beckford-Henriques said she is pleased with the strong start. As with many of the other teams, there was a certain amount of uncertainty after 18 months off from any competition.
“It has been really pleasing to me. Because we had a year and a half break, and also half of my team is first- or second-years, I had no clue how they would rate. What’s been good is that at each meet, we’ve had people improving their time. And I also now have gotten to get some idea of how people race, which is important for me,” said Beckford-Henriques.
Though this team might be young, these have proven to be some of the strongest recruiting years for the program. Beckford-Henriques rated the last two classes as probably the best she has seen in her time here. She said she was nervous about how these recruits would perform but she knew the talent was there if they could swim like they had done when being recruited.
One of the captains of the team, Lukas Wormald, a fourth-year mechatronics engineering student, noted the development of the team.
”In my first year of swimming our U Sports men’s team was me and one other guy. And now we already have seven guys qualified and we still have two competitions in January and OUA Championships which a lot of guys will peak for and qualify there. So you know, just the amount of growth we’ve had this season has been absolutely huge and I think at U Sports coming in with a good sized team is going to make a really huge difference,” said Wormald.
One of those seven qualifiers is Alex Boden, a first-year computer science student. He qualified for the 200m butterfly at the Western meet.
“Qualifying for U Sports was definitely a goal for the season, but I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d be able to do it at this meet. But it’s a time that I know and that I’ve been trying to hit for a while or add all the meets we’ve been to and it felt really good to hit it then,” said Boden.
The team now heads into a training week based in Toronto, doing multiple swim sessions a day as well as dryland training. The timing of this training — six weeks out from the OUA championships — means that it fits perfectly in the training cycle to peak for the championship.
Coach Beckford-Henriques is hoping to be able to get the team to move up the rankings to at least second in the men’s and fourth in the women’s heading into the OUA Championships.
As for the success so far this year, Wormald gives the credit to the coach.
“I gotta give all the credit to Jacky — she’s done really well having the number of guys on the team. Giving everyone an opportunity to race, spending time with each person to develop them as best they can. She’s helped create a really good training atmosphere and dynamic moving forward. And I think that’s good. Just gonna continue to see dividends in the future.”