Canadian Maritime Life Spring Nationals

Malar Stars With Commonwealth Reocrd In The 400 IM
Pacific Dolphins Rule In All Team Categories


Nick J. Thierry

VICTORIA - The first night of finals at the 1999 Maritime Life Spring Nationals (long course) had team selections as the foremost aim for the finallists. Major team spots up for grabs were: SC Worlds (April 1-4) in Hong Kong, World Student Games in July, Pan Ams in August, and Pan Pacs in Sydney Australia,

In a very close finish Joanne Malar (UCSC) won the women's 200 freestyle by 1/100 of a second with 2:01.29 over Jessica Deglau (PDSA) second with 2:01.30. Laura Nicholls (ROW) was third with 2:01.63. Kate Brambley (PDSA) and Marianne Limpert (PDSA) tied for fourth with 2:02.55.

In the B final, Suzu Chiba (JPN), who followed coach Bud McAllister from California to Waterloo (ROW), swam to a three-body-length win in 2:00.52. McAllister arrived in mid-January to take up the Waterloo National Centre coaching position.

Rick Say (IS) was the early leader in the men's 200 freestyle with 25.54 at the 50, and 53.73 at the 100. Mark Johnston (PDSA) moved into the lead at the 150 with 1:22.16, and held on to win in 1:50.70. Yannick Lupien (MAC) challenged for the lead in the final metres but was second with 1:50.86. Say was third with 1:51.56 and Brian Johns (RACER) fourth with 1:51.73.

In the women's 100 backstroke, Kelly Stefanyshyn (PDSA) took the lead at the 50 with 30.93. But in the second length, Erin Gammel (KCS) moved into the lead, touching first with 1:02.84. Stefanyshyn was second with 1:03.17 and Amanda Marin (PDSA) was third with 1:03.82. Gammel's win was a personal best and a bit of an upset over Canadian record-holder Stefanyshyn.

"I'm just happy it was best time. I've been waiting for that for a year," said Gammel, 19. "I finally clicked and I'm overwhelmed by it. My training has gone exceptionally well and I had it in my mind I was going to do it this year."

In what turned out to be the swim of the evening, Joanne Malar (UCSC) went all out from the start in the 400 IM and crushed her old best of 4:43.39 with a terrific 4:41.20. It a was new Commonwealth and Canadian record.

Malar's split: Old record
1:04.08 (fly) 1:04.44
2:16.24 (1:12.16 back) 2:16.62
3:36.79 (1:20.55 breast) 3:37.67
4:41.20 (1:04.41 free) 4:43.39

An emotional Malar after record 400 IM swim
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Greg Kinch

In second was Liz Warden (TO) with 4:49.68-a repeat of their 1-2 finish from last year's Commonwealth Games.

"This is something I've been waiting for for a long time," said Malar, and credited her coach Jan Bidrman for her improved performances of late.

"I was on a plateau for a while and it was getting hard to get motivated to train, but I knew it was in me. And I feel there's still room for improvement. It's exciting to see I'm getting there."

The men's 400 IM was a tough race for Curtis Myden (UCSC), who is concentrating on school work. He was challenged by Owen Von Richter (ESWIM) on the second half where he closed the gap in breaststroke and almost moved into the lead at the 350. But Myden pulled it out like so many times in the past with a 4:19.09, to Von Richter's personal best of 4:19.90 (his first time under 4:20).

In third was Adam Peacey (TO) with 4:24.20, another personal best, over Philip Weiss (IS) with 4:24.89.

It was a milestone 25th national title for Myden. "Winning 25 really sneaks up on you," said Myden, who has concentrated on school most of this season. "Hopefully there's a few more in me. I was pretty happy with my time, there's still a lot of work to do but I'm confident I can catch up to my old form." Pacific Dolphins won both relays.

The women's team of Kelly Stefanyshyn, Marianne Limpert, Katie Brambley, and Jessica Deglau won with 1:45.44, to Calgary's 1:45.83 and Region of Waterloo's 1:45.89.

The men's race had a record swim of 1:33.76 in the morning prelims, so a faster time was to be expected. The Pacific Dolphin team of Garret Pulle, Jake Steele, Mark Johnston, and Michael Mintenko lowered their own record to 1:32.61. Calgary Swimming (UCSC) was second with 1:34.18 and Markham AC third with 1:34.50.

The second night started with another win for Joanne Malar in hot pursuit of the Canadian 400 freestyle record. She split 1:01.03 and 2:05.63 for the first half, but at 300 she fell off the pace with 3:10.48 and finished in 4:13.85. The existing record of 4:12.83 from 1983 by Julie Daigneault is somewhat out of reach for the moment.

Daigneault's record splits from 1983 are: 1:02.37, 2:06.50, 3:10.13, 4:12.83

1 4:12.83 SEASN83 Julie Daigneault,17,PCSC LCM83
2 4:13.40 CANAUG Patricia Noall,18,CNMN LCM88
3 4:13.49 CWLTHAUG Nikki Dryden,19,IS LCM94
4 4:13.85 CANLCMAR Joanne Malar,22,UCSC LCM99
5 4:14.45 ESSOCUP Donna McGinnis,17,ESC LCM86
6 4:14.49 CANNATLS Debbie Wurzburger,15,LYAC LCM85
7 4:14.60 SEASN76 Shannon Smith,14,HYACK LCM76
8 4:15.37 CANNATLS Kim Milne,15,LYAC LCM85
9 4:15.38 SEASN80 Wendy Quirk,20,EKSC LCM80
10 4:15.80 CANAUG Jessica Deglau,18,PDSA LCM98

It was a personal best for Malar, fourth on the all-time Canadian list, and her third individual gold of the championships. Only three of the top 10 times were done during the 1990s.

"I think it's about time that record should go," said Malar, 23. "One of my goals at the Pan Am Games and Pan Pacific Championships will be to break it."

In the men's 400 freestyle, Mark Johnston (PDSA) took the lead early and held on to finish with 3:55.56. He won the 200 free the previous night for his second gold of the championships.

The battle was for second between Brian Johns (SKSC) and Rick Say (IS). At the 300, Say moved into second, to finish with 3:57.12 to Johns' 3:58.46.

Say, a relative newcomer to the sport at age 20, has dropped 7 seconds since the previous Spring Nationals in 1998.

It was an easy win for Lauren van Oosten (UCSC) in the women's 100 breaststroke, leading from the start and touching at the end with 1:10.63. Tara Sloan (UCSC) was second with 1:11.43 and Lisa Blackburn (NKB) was third with 1:11.82. The times were slow, as a year ago van Oosten medalled at the World Championships with 1:08.66

Winning the B Final was Penny Heyns (UCSC) in 1:09.11, the Olympic Champion and world record holder from South Africa who followed her coach Jan Bidrman to Calgary a year ago.

Morgan Knabe (UCSC) was the class of the field in the men's 100 breaststroke, turning first in 29.60 and touching over a body length ahead of the field with 1:02.53, a personal best. The next 6 swimmers battled for the remaining medals.

A sweep for Morgan Knabe (UCSC) in the men's breasstroke
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Greg Kinch

Jason Hunter (NRST) took the silver with 1:04.52 and Trevor Brekke (COMOX) the bronze with 1:04.55. Brekke was competing at his first nationals and his previous best was 1:06.50.

"I had Victor's record in my mind tonight," said the Calgary-based Knabe, who bounced back after not making the Commonwealth Games team at last year's nationals. "I think I can definitely get that record and pre-qualify for the Olympics this year. It would be a big thrill to get it. Victor is a legend and one of my idols."

All 8 finallists in the women's 100 butterfly were in the medal hunt with 10 metres remaining. Jessica Deglau (PDSA) had the best finish, winning with 1:01.85. Karine Chevrier (CAMO) was second with 1:02.03 and Sarah Evanetz (UCSC) third with 1:02.06. All the next five swimmers were also under 1:03.00 for the closest finish of the championships.

Shamek Pietucha (UNATT) was the clear winner in the men's 100 butterfly with a sub-54-second time of 53.48, after a prelim time of 53.93, a personal best for both swims. Collin Sood (UCSC) was second with 54.45 and Garret Pulle (PDSA) third with 54.67.

Shamek Pietucha winner of the men's 100 butterfly with a 53.48
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Greg Kinch

"I had never gone under 54 seconds until today," said the Polish-born Pietucha, 22. "I really thought I might have a shot at the record. In the last 15 metres I was praying my legs wouldn't give out."

Pietucha will be busy, as he'll be competing in the NCAAs next week, then in Hong Kong for the World SC Championships the week after.

Pacific Dolphins took the women's relay with 3:47.90, bettering their Canadian Club record of 3:49.21.

And it was the Pacific Dolphins in the men's relay with 3:26.09.

The third night brought the show-down of these nationals, as Canada's two top swimmers matched up in the 200 IM. Marianne Limpert (PDSA) took the lead from the start and turned first at the 50. On the backstroke she held the lead, with Malar closing the gap. On the third and decisive leg, Malar's breaststroke clinched the race as she moved ahead, never challenged on the freestyle leg. With 25 metres to go Malar had a body length lead and sprinted into the finish with a 2:14.38, a mere 3/100ths of a second off Limpert's record.

The splits:
Malar Limpert
0:29.87 0:29.35
1:04.64 1:04.20
1:43.10 1:43.93
2:14.38 2:16.10

Malar now has four individual golds after the first three days of the championships.

"It's a different race from all the rest of them because it is so built up," said Malar."Marianne and I are both ranked among the world's best in this event so we really push each other. This was a huge victory for me."

In the men's 200 IM, Owen Von Richter (ESWIM) challenged Curtis Myden (UCSC) like so often in the past, and was in the lead for the first half. Myden moved ahead on the breaststroke leg and held off Von Richter's freestyle leg to win with 2:02.39 to 2:02.91. Brian Johns (RACER) moved into third with 2:04.61, ahead of Philip Weiss (IS), 2:04.72, who at an earlier stage was in second.

A new Canadian record was set in the women's 50 freestyle. Laura Nicholls (ROW), with 25.86, led the race from start to finish. She bettered the old record of 25.90 by Shannon Shakespeare from 1995.

Record swim in the 50 free for Laura Nicholls (ROW)
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Greg Kinch

"It's really special to have the record for my own," said Nicholls, now with nine national titles. "It's something I hope I can translate into some success internationally this year."

Yannick Lupien (MAC), the top qualifier in the men's 50 freestyle, became the third Canadian to go under 23 seconds with his 22.98. He was in the lead for the whole race. Craig Hutchison (PCSC) was second with 23.39 and Ryan Laurin (WVOSC) third with 23.42.

In the women's 200 backstroke, Liz Warden (TO) took the lead for the first three lengths. Kelly Stefanyshyn (PDSA) moved into the lead on the last 50 to win with 2:14.62. Erin Gammel (KCS) finished strongly to touch with 2:15.46 ahead of Warden, in third with 2:16.79.

The splits:
Stefanyshyn Gammel Warden
0:32.55 0:32.36 0:31.99
1:07.11 1:07.20 1:06.10
1:41.15 1:42.00 1:41.07
2:14.62 2:15.46 2:16.79

Gammel won the 100 back on the first night had never been uder 2:20 before.

In the men's 200 backstroke it was a 1-2-3 finish for the powerful Pacific Dolphins as Mark Versfeld finished in first with 2:01.34, Dustin Hersee moved into second on the last length with 2:01.67, and Greg Hamm finished third with 2:02.05. Chris Renaud (UCSC) was in third for most the race but faded to fourth in the final metres with 2:02.35.

Pacific Dolphins won the women's 4x200 free in a Canadian club record time of 8:12.36, bettering their old record of 8:17.92 from last year.

The men's PDSA team won with 7:30.11, missing the Canadian club record of 7:29.61 by UCSC from 1988.

On the final day, Lindsay Beavers (Dorado SC) had a big win in the 800 freestyle after battling Danielle Bell (IS). Beavers took the lead at 500 metres and poured it on in the last 100 with a big kick, moving into a body-length lead in the last 50. Her time of 8:49.91 was her first time under 8:50.00. It was her first win after a second in 1997. Danielle Bell, 15, had never been under 9 minutes until the prelims of this event the day before. Her 8:51.12 was a 9-second improvement of her previous best.

Lindsay Beavers (Dorado SC) after her win in the 800 freestyle
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Mario Bartel

Tamee Ebert (PDSA), who was in the lead for the first half, finished third with 8:54.63.

In the women's 100 freestyle, Laura Nicholls (ROW) turned at the 50 in 27.33, ahead of record pace, but didn't have the big finish, winning with 56.39. Marianne Limpert (PDSA) was second with 56.72 and Jessica Deglau (PDSA) third with 56.95.

In the men's 100 freestyle, Yannick Lupien (MAC) turned in 24.09, slower than he wanted to be, but his winning time of 50.40 was a personal best. Lupien won the 100 free in 1996.

Craig Hutchison (PCSC) was second with 51.13 and Graham Duthie (PDSA) third with 51.48.

Lauren van Oosten (UCSC) was in the lead throughout the women's 200 breaststroke and managed to hold off Joanne Malar (UCSC) in lane one, who moved into second after the first length. The winning time was 2:31.47 with Malar second in 2:32.66 and Kristy Cameron (GMAC), in contention in the last length, for third with 2:32.81

Lauren van Oosten (UCSC) held off teammate Joanne Malar to win the 200 breaststroke.
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Greg Kinch

In the B final, Penny Heyns (RSA) won with 2:28.31 in her final preparation for the SC Worlds in 10 days time in Hong Kong. Morgan Knabe (UCSC) won his second breaststroke title with a personal best of 2:15.45 (1:05.02 at the 100), with a huge lead throughout the race. Michel Boulianne (CAMO) was second with 2:18.88 and 14-year-old Matthew Huang (PDSA) was third with 2:19.95 for his second NAG record of this competition.

It was the seventh consecutive 200 fly win for Jessica Deglau (PDSA), in 2:12.28 (1:03.59 at the 100). Deglau is preparing for a big swim in 10 days at SC Worlds and was not fully tapered. The battle was for second as Jennifer Button (ROW) with 2:14.42 held off a fast-charging Julie Gravelle (TO), 2:14.52.

Butterfly queen Jessica Deglau (PDSA)
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Mario Bartel

Shamek Pietucha (UNATT) grabbed the 200 fly gold with a personal best of 1:59.02 (57.21 at the 100). He won the 100 two days previously and tied Joanne Malar for the best performance of these championships. Philip Weiss (IS) was second with 2:01.71 and Doug Browne (ROW) third with 2:02.48.

The men's 1500 freestyle was the third individual gold for Mark Johnson (PDSA), but this event indicates the general weakness in distance swimming.

The winner from the last two nationals (Brent Sallee) missed finals. Five of the eight finallists went slower than in the prelims the day before. The winner, Mark Johnston, was faster last year when he was third. The sad state of distance swimming could not be more eloquently displayed than on the final night.

Mark Johnston (PDSA) won with 15:44.55 and Tim Peterson (PDSA), his training mate, was second in 15:53.72. Andrew Hurd (TO) was third for his first-ever national medal and a personal best of 15:57.57. Pacific Dolphins won the women's 4x100 medley relay with 4:13.27 for a complete sweep of all the women's relays.

Calgary (UCSC) finally won a men's relay in 3:43.86, with Pacific Dolphins second with 3:45.87 and PDSA B third with 3:47.12.