The EDSS swim team is sending one of its largest-ever contingents to the provincial championship next week.
Eight team members took home gold medals at the regional CWOSSA championship on February 14. An additional four members advanced based on being one of the next 32 fastest times in their events compared to the rest of Ontario.
That includes the girls’ senior 200m medley relay team, which set a new regional record of 2:24.29 at the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association meet, besting the previous record of 2:27.17 set by North Park Collegiate in 2017.
“At WCSSA I think we were about a second off or half a second off. But, to be honest, I think we had forgotten about it by the time CWOSSA rolled around,” explained team member Izzy Speiran.
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“So we were still training really hard, and everything and I think when we got the record I think we were just really surprised and happy for all of us,” she said.
Speiran was joined on the relay team by Vanessa Gadsby, Jessica Schmidt and Mackenzie Nyusa. Setting the record helped set the tone for the rest of the CWOSSA championship, coach Pat German said.
“I think that really set them up well for the rest of their day for their individual swims because it was right at the beginning. So they were all in really good spirits throughout that championship day,” German said.
The team was just excited to be at CWOSSA, Speiran said.
“We haven’t had CWOSSA since before COVID and nobody’s ever been to CWOSSA. Everybody was just really excited going into it. We all did good; pretty much everybody who went to CWOSSA qualified for OFSAA, so it’s very exciting,” said Speiran, who will also compete in the 50m freestyle and 100m individual medley.
While much of the focus this season was on setting personal bests for the individual swimmers, they put the work in during the year going into CWOSSA.
“We knew the kids trained very well. And I think they were personally prepared for their swims,” German said.
“And they enjoy swimming. So they were excited about seeing if they can get their personal bests, which I believe most of them ended up getting their personal best CWOSSA,” added coach Thuy Leu.
The team worked on the more technical aspects of swimming throughout the season, coach Alex Toth said.
“We spent a lot of time learning turns and breakouts and starts and I think that helps them really improve over the course of the season,” he said.
Team member Jamie Meissner, who will be competing in the junior 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle, also highlighted the team’s hard work.
“I like the meets, but it really shows how hard we’ve worked. We practice twice a week and we work really well as a team together,” he said.
Meissner will also be part of the 200m freestyle relay, joining teammates Alex Veitch, Troy Dittenhoffer, and Jonah Schmidt. The relay team is “very good,” Meissner said.
“I think that was the one event that I knew I was guaranteed to go [to OFSAA] because we work really well together. We all really know what our strengths and weaknesses are, so we can plan around that and are really efficient,” he said.
Although the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association championship (OFSAA), set for February 28 and March 1 in Windsor, will bring together the best swimmers from Ontario, the team is not changing its approach.
“I think we’re just happy that we get to go at all so I think everybody’s just kind of revelling in all the excitement for that. We’re still training as hard as we can leading up to OFSAA. And we’re just going to have a good time and see how we do,” Speiran said.
Just making OFSAA was the hard part, Toth said.
“Once you’re there, it’s just about having fun. I don’t think that there’s much more we’re going to prepare. We’ll go over some things that they can maybe use to take a little bit more time off. But for the most part…If they do really well, then that’s great, but if they make some personal bests, and everyone has a good experience it’s really all that we’re looking for,” he said.