Campus Life

Nicol, Thornley lead Horns' effort in pool

This past weekend in Victoria, 27 Pronghorn swimmers hit the pool at the Canada West Championships, led by medalists Jeff Nicol and Ryan Thornley. It was the largest group of swimmers the 'Horns have sent in recent memory and they continued to build on this season's positive results.

Both the men's and women's sides finished fifth in their respective team categories with the men's side accumulating 293.5 points, while the women's side finished with 216. The 'Horns had 13 top-eight finishes at the meet and 20 of 27 swimmers recorded individual scoring points.

There were also two school records broken in Victoria with Thornley breaking the school record in the 100 metre backstroke and the men's 400 freestyle relay team also setting a new school mark.

"Canada West is the fastest conference meet in the CIS and it lived up to its billing," says first-year head coach Peter Schori. "Overall, I am pleased with our team's improvement but not satisfied with all of our results, I think we are better in some areas than we showed and expect to see improvements at the CIS Championships."

Thornley and fifth-year swimmer, Nicol led the way for the Pronghorns and were the only medalists this year. Nicol has medaled at the last four conference championship meets and finished with two medals in Victoria, while Thornley picked up a bronze in the 50-metre fly on Friday.

In the 200-metre breast stroke, Nicol earned silver in the event for the second consecutive year, and is currently ranked third in the CIS. He also swam a lifetime best time in the 100-metre breast stroke en route to a bronze medal.

The men's 400-metre freestyle relay team narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth. It is currently ranked fifth in the CIS.

"We needed 3/10ths more in the Men's 400 Free Relay to get on the podium ahead of Alberta. The boys raced well but I think there are lots of places over 400 metres to find the improvement we need," says Schori.

On the women's side, Kara Declark had two top-8 finishes in the 50 and 100-metre fly events and Kiara Bodell also finished in the top eight in the 100 backstroke. A bright sign for the women looking toward the future is that 10 of the 14 women that competed at the championships registered points for the team.

"I am pleased to see the progress from our Women's team. They are a very young team and have raised their level of competitiveness in Canada West moving up to 5th place with 10 swimmers scoring points," says Schori.

The 'Horns had one more swimmer qualify for the CIS Championships and have qualified nine to date. The team will have another chance this weekend to post CIS qualifying times as the Lethbridge Swim Club plays host to the Speedo Alberta Senior Swimming Championships at the Max Bell Pool.

The CIS Championship meet will be hosted by the University of Calgary Dinos, Feb. 21-23.