Campus Life

Horns take advantage of home pool at historic Canada West championships

The Pronghorns swim teams put on a show for their home crowd as the 2022 Canada West Swimming Championships took over the Max Bell Regional Aquatic Centre this weekend. For the first time in program history, the Horns came away with a medal haul in the double digits, hitting the conference podium 10 times over the three-day event.

Pronghorns Apollo Hess was named the top swimmer of the meet in sweeping gold in the men's breaststroke events.

The Pronghorns also captured some major awards, as head coach Peter Schori was named the Canada West Men’s Coach of the Year, while second-year swimmer Apollo Hess was named the Men’s Swimmer of the Meet and Canada West Swimmer of the Year.

Schori says while the weekend was really about showcasing the Pronghorns program, he was honoured by the recognition.

“I’m super, super proud. Coach of the Year usually goes to the winning men’s or women’s team, and it’s voted on by the coaches, so for all my peers to recognize me, that’s great,” says Schori.

The meet began with a bang on Friday, as Hess swam a blazing 26.63 in both the qualifier and the final of the 50-metre breaststroke to break his own Canadian record and capture his first gold of the weekend. Hess swept the breaststroke golds for the men, also topping the podium in the 100-metre and 200-metre events.

Schori says the weekend from Hess was yet another step in the impressive progression he’s seen over the swimmer’s time with the Horns.

“He’s been our leader, really since he got here, certainly in terms of his performances and more and more now in terms of his character and leadership,” says Schori.

Pronghorns rookie Tristan Bennett got in on the breaststroke hardware action too, taking bronze in Friday’s 50-metre final with a time of 27.74 seconds, a provincial record for 18-year-old male swimmers.

Veteran Chris Alexander collected a trio of individual medals, grabbing a silver in Friday’s 50-metre backstroke final, followed by a bronze in Saturday’s 50-metre freestyle and a second silver in Sunday’s 100-metre backstroke.

In one of the upsets of the weekend, Raine Arden captured gold in Saturday’s 200-metre freestyle final. Arden was seeded fourth heading into the race, but got out to a blazing start off the block and held off a pair of Calgary Dinos racers with a 1:48.42 finish.

Arden joined Hess, Alexander and Parker Brown as a formidable relay front on both Saturday and Sunday night, as the group raced to bronze in the 400-metre freestyle relay and silver in the 400-metre medley relay.

Schori says the extra boost from the home crowd was felt all weekend by his swimmers.

“We have a super strong program right now, especially on the men’s side, and we wanted to show that off at home. You could see it on the swimmers’ faces, what it felt like when they were marching out and how uplifting that was,” he says.

The men would complete the weekend third overall, while the women placed sixth, both good for the highest finish in program history. The Calgary Dinos topped the team podium on the men’s side, with the UBC Thunderbirds finishing first for the women.

The Horns currently have 11 swimmers qualified for USPORTS championships in February, hosted by the University of Victoria.