She did all she could to help her team come close to a title ... perhaps for the final time.
Erica Morningstar, a two-time Olympian, won the 200m IM at the 2013 CIS swimming championships at the University of Calgary’s Aquatic Centre and then promptly announced to the crowd that it was the final meet of a terrific career in the pool, though she stopped short of uttering the word ‘retirement’.
“I knew coming in that this was going to be my last meet, but I didn’t want to think about it that way because there was lots of racing to do,” said the 23-year-old. “I’m not formally announcing my retirement, but I’m definitely taking a break from swimming for the moment.”
Morningstar’s efforts went toward a second-place finish for the Calgary women’s team as the 13 strong accumulated 548 points, second to UBC, which successfully defended the crown with 691.5. The men’s side was one of the closest races ever, as the University of Toronto took the banner with a total of 539, followed closely by UBC with 524 and the host Dinos at 514.
Morningstar, taking control during the breaststroke portion of the IM, sailed to the finish in a time of 2:10.49, not as quick as her CIS record of 2:09.12 but good enough for her fourth gold medal in that event and the meet’s swim of the day. She then teamed up with Lindsay Delmar, Fiona Doyle and Amanda Reason to win the 400m medley relay.
“It was really important to me; that’s the reason I came back to swimming,” she acknowledged. “After the Olympics I took a quite a long break, but I wanted to come back and help the team. That was my main goal and I’m really happy I was able to do that.
“It’s a really good way to go out. I’m so proud of this team, men’s and women’s. I think we swam really great and I’m really proud to be a Dino.”
Among the other individual highlights for Calgary was the second CIS record set by breaststroke artist Jason Block, who erased his own standard of 27.36 in the 50m with a 27.22.
“It means a lot for sure,” noted the graduating Dino. “We had a big meeting before finals tonight and I think everyone was excited and it got me excited and I’m glad I could come out on top.
“It means a lot having my name in the record books. More than that, though, it’s more for the team than anything. To have U of C beside those records means more to me than having my name beside it.”
Block and teammates Russell Wood, Gleb Suvorov and David Woodman put in a yeoman effort in the men’s 400m medley relay, but were edged out 3:35.10 to 3:35.57 by the T-Birds.
Freshman Tianna Rissling has had an inaugural CIS meet to remember as she netted her second individual gold medal in three days, taking the 50m breaststroke in 30.97, just fractionally ahead of teammate Doyle (31.00) and UBC’s Tera Van Beilen (31.11). She was also chosen the CIS female rookie of the meet.
“It was definitely a fun race and a great way to end the meet for me,’’ smiled the youngster. “I’m really proud of my teammates racing me in there and really happy with the result. Good start, good middle, good turn, good finish. There’s really no room for mistakes.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be like this at all. I’ve been to some pretty amped up meets, but the atmosphere with the team behind you every step of the way ... it’s awesome.”
Suvorov took the 200m backstroke, coming from behind to overtake Toronto’s Matthew Myers and Wood in an excruciatingly close race. He won with a best time of 1:55.29, followed by Myers at 1:55.89 and Wood in 1:55.95.
“I’m pretty excited,” said the third-year Dino from Toronto. “This is my last day and the 100 back didn’t go well last night. I was pretty upset. I just wanted to concentrate on winning this event so I’m pretty happy with it. I tapered and shaved and dropped a second, so I kind of expected that. I didn’t expect to win, though.”
Calgary’s Bogdan Knezevic was a bronze medallist in the men’s 200m IM final.
Eleven Dinos made it onto the all-Canadian first team, including Delmar, Doyle, Morningstar, Reason, Rissling, Block, Suvorov, Wood, Woodman, Connor Maxey and Reid Scarrow. Julianne Brown and Bryan Wray made it onto the second squad.
Among other high points on the final day: UBC’s Savannah King became a three-time winner of the 800m freestyle and was selected female swimmer of the meet; the male competitor of the meet was UBC’s Kelly Aspinall, who collected three golds and one silver; Carolin Lapierre-Lemire of the University of Quebec-Trois Rivieres won the Sprinters’ Cup by virtue of her gold medal performances in both the 50 and 100m freestyle races; and the University of Victoria’s Eric Hedlin was chosen as the male rookie of the meet.
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