By Woodard, Dale on November 22, 2019.
Pronghorns swim team hosts Canada West Swim Championship
Adam Stromberg is in his fourth year with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns swimming team and, as such, is gearing up for his fourth Canada West Championship.
Take a wild guess at how many medals he’d like to come away with this weekend.
“Fourth year, four medals, that’s the goal right?” said the product of Fort Frances, Ont. “Try and get a couple of wins for the Pronghorns and try and get on top with the relays. It’s really just trying the best I can do and making the best of it.”
What’s better, the Horns veteran will get to do that in home waters as the Pronghorns host the Canada West Championship starting today at the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness and running until Sunday.
“From my first year until now it’s better,” said Stromberg, who will swim in both relays as well as the 100m breaststroke and freestyle and the 50m breaststroke and freestyle. “I know what’s happening. I know the other guys, the other big guys here. They should be ready to see that I’m going to come out and try to win this. Being able to get the energy that is coming from this, it’s not a new frightening thing for me, that’s for sure.”
No stranger to the Canada West stage herself, Adrienne Foscolos puts on the laps for the third time with the Pronghorns women’s team.
“I think it’s exciting to see everybody here getting ready,” she said. “The fact we only get to do this once every five years at our own pool is exciting. I know all the other teams at the university are going to be rooting for us and they get to come watch, which also doesn’t get to happen very often.”
For the first time in a long time, both the men’s and women’s Pronghorns teams have also cracked the top-10 in the national rankings.
“For the women’s team, we haven’t been in the top 10 in U Sports for a while,” said Foscolos. “But this season we got it. So I think after this weekend we are looking for a top 10 spot. We have some good rookies this year that are really helping push everyone. So with them and obviously the veterans, they’re doing a really great job helping everybody come together as a team and have some good relays and some good individual swims.”
The Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas, the UBC Thunderbirds, Calgary Dinos, Manitoba Bisons, Regina Cougars, Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the Victoria Vikes will make up the field.
It’s also one of the deepest pools – pun intended – with the likes of Markus Thormeyer of UBC and Kelsey Wog of the Bisons, last year’s Male and Female Swimmers of the year.
UBC’s Alex Pratt and Calgary’s Marit Anderson look to build on solid debuts, while Hoi Lam Karen-Tam of UBC – who set records in the women’s 50m and 100m freestyle events last year – and 10-time Canada West champion medallist Robert Hill are also on hand.
“There’s one that really sticks out,” said Pronghorns head coach Peter Schori. “Kelsey from the University of Manitoba. It’s interesting, Kelsey is actually a rival of (Lethbridge) Rachel Nicol. But Kelsey is one of the best swimmers in the world right now in breaststroke and individual medley and she’s going to be the class of this meet.”
Thirty-four Pronghorn swimmers will compete this weekend with Chris Alexander, Stromberg, Tricia Fair and Emilia Hesterman leading the respective genders.
Coming off U-SPORTS finals a year ago, both Stromberg and Alexander enter the conference meets with potential of claiming individual medals and are key swimmers on the medley and free relays.
One the women’s team, Hesterman was the Pronghorns top point scorers at last year’s Canada West Championships and Fair returns to the fold after missing last year due to injury. Along with Hesterman, she will be counted on to lead the relay teams.
“The season has been pretty good, definitely better than last year. But all the women are excited to get in the pool,” said Foscolos. “I think just all around, the training and just knowing that it’s here makes you want to work even harder throughout the whole season to do better.”
Stromberg’s fourth season has also been a strong one.
“I’ve been training hard and things have been clicking a little bit better than previous years. The lifting has been good, the coaching has been good. We have a lot of guys and girls who are ready to perform hard. We’re training hard and everybody is pushing each other to the maximum they can do.”
He’s aware of the deep talent pool and knows the swimmers, but that doesn’t mean Stromberg doesn’t want to beat them.
“I’m going to try and gun for them,” he said. “They’re all great guys, but once you dive into the pool there are no friends, just touch the wall first.”
To qualify for nationals swimmers have to achieve a time based on 16th place in U Sports.
Last year, the Pronghorns qualified eight swimmers for Nationals. So far Stromberg, Thomas Utas, Chris Alexander and Hesterman have qualified for the U Sports Swimming Championships, which take place Feb. 20-22, hosted by the University of Victoria Vikes.
“It’s pretty fast if you think about it,” said Schori, adding he’d like to see another four or five Pronghorns make nationals this weekend. “There are 30 universities in Canada that have swimming. So if you’re in the top 16 in an individual event, you’re in a pretty classy field”
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