By Tommy Osborne, November 1 2016 —
The University of Calgary swim team proudly displays their motto on the walls of their pool.
“We will dominate Canadian swimming by our unprecedented work ethic and team unity” it reads. It’s a philosophy that has led to a history of storied success from Dinos athletes on both the national and international stage.
The rest of the walls of their pool in the Kinesiology complex are covered with the banners of the team’s past successes. The banners also feature many of the U of C swimmers that have competed at the Olympics — names like Tom Ponting, Fiona Doyle and Jason Block.
The incredible success achieved by past U of C swimming alumni certainly motivates athletes on this year’s team. Fourth-year Tristan Cote takes great pride in being part of a program with such an elite history.
“It feels great [being part of the team],” he said. “Four years ago when I was getting recruited to the program, [head coach] Mike [Blondal] really stressed the fact that the alumni and the history of Calgary in swimming has been great. Every day when I go to the pool we have the times and records of the fastest alumni that have swam in our pool for our team. Looking at those times everyday and looking at those names on the board pushes you to do better and better yourself in every way that you can.”
In the 2016 national championships, Cote won four silver
medals in the 400m individual medley, 4x200m free relay, 400m free and 1500m free events. He hopes to continue his success from last year and help the Dinos bring home another championship banner.
“I’m going to do what I do every year, I’m going to go out and do the best that I can for the team.” Cote said. “[U Sports] is a team-oriented meet, so I’m going to do whatever I can to get the team the most points and have the best chance to win.”
Blondal has created a culture of excellence and high standards for the Dinos both in and out of the pool.
“We’re a hard training program, we train a lot and our expectations on our academics are that they are highly successful in school,” Blondal said.
Athletes are expected to manage their time and balance both swimming and studies. Cote, who has been swimming since he was five-years old, learned how to balance both pursuits.
“I’ve learned in the past that swimming is a great teacher of time management. We train 24 hours a week, so we don’t have all the time in the world to get our homework done,” Cote said.
Rookie Peter Brothers — a highly sought after swimmer coming out of high school — said that the academic success the U of C provides was a big factor in why he chose to become a Dino.
“I really liked the team atmosphere here and how they balance school and swimming. I just wanted to be able to balance my academics with swimming a little bit better, so I felt I was a good fit here,” Brothers said.
Brothers’ resume is impressive — he won silver in the 400m free and gold in the 1500m free in the 2016 Canadian Swimming Championships. He hopes that he can carry over his success with the Dinos.
“I know what works for me inside the pool,” he said. “I’m just building a relationship with [Blondal] and we’re figuring out the best strategy for me to continue the work I’ve been doing, and improve on my weaknesses to get even better.”
Alongside hoping for success with the Dinos, Brothers also aims to represent Canada on the international level.
“I want to continue to make the senior national team, either for [the] world championship games or university championships,” he said.
The team will look to add to their impressive history in the Canada West championships on Nov. 25 and 26 and the U Sports national championships from Feb. 23–25.