June 16th, 2024

U of L Pronghorns swimming team makes history in Quebec

By Lethbridge Herald on March 28, 2022.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns swim team broke a 17-year drought of no medals at U SPORTS Championships in Quebec City this past weekend.

The Pronghorns returned with five national medals, which is the most by a U of L swim team at one national championship since 2000.

Additionally, the seven-member team combined for a Canadian record, setting two provincial records, setting nine school records and earned four All-Canadian awards.

Local product Apollo Hess carved the pool to history on the second day as he won gold in the 200-metre breast stroke.

 Hess swam to gold in a time of 26.65 seconds and breaking the Canadian Senior record.

The previous record was set by Paul Kornfeld in 2009.

Hess qualified that morning  in the 50-metre breaststroke preliminaries and broke a U SPORTS record in the process. “Apollo was awesome in the pool and with his words. He has earned all of the accolades but his respect for his competitors and desire to be great are what makes him an excellent role model,” said head coach Peter Schori.

“The Canadian record at the age of 19 is very exciting.”

Hess golden performance came after claiming the team’s first national medal since the 2004-2005 season, as he won silver 100-metre backstroke on March 24.

For his performances over three days, Hess was named the U Sports Rookie of the Year and a First-Team All-Canadian.

Chris Alexander and Parker Brown also qualified for an ‘A’ final.

Alexander just missed the Pronghorns sixth medal as he finished fourth in the 50-metre backstroke.

As for Brown, he placed sixth in the 100-metre freestyle and 15th in the 50-metres freestyle.

For the first time in U of L’ s swimming program history, a swimming relay team had a podium finish at the national championship and it didn’t happen once, but twice.

Pronghorn swimmers won silver in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay  on the first day and on the second day duplicated the second- place finish at the 4 x 100 medley relay.

U of L entered the final relay of the meet seeded sixth, and ende up second by the end.

“Two silver medals for the men with our team of four guys up against the big schools with up to 18 swimmers – true championship performances by all of them,” said Schori.

Raine Arden rounded out the Pronghorn men’s results, finishing 15th in the 200 metre and 20th in the 50-metre freestyle.

“I am really proud of our LASC (Lethbridge Amateur Swim Club) swimmers that have become the heart of the Pronghorns. Apollo, Chris and Raine have grown up at the Max Bell and are combining to lead us to new levels – it is pretty cool, their silver in the medley relay is a provincial record and third best ever in Canada,” commented Schori

With the silver medals in the relay events, Brown  and Arden were named Second Team All-Canadians.

On the women’s side, first-year Pronghorn Hunter Stewardson had top finishes as she narrowly missed two ‘A’ finals. She finished 10th in the 50-metre breast stroke, 11th in the 100-metre breast stroke and 21st in the 200-metre breaststroke.

 Libby Fox placed 22nd in the 50-metre butterfly and Emilia Hesterman was 23rd in the breaststroke.

 Speaking on Fox and  Hesterman, who will graduate from the program, Schori said – “Emilia and Libby made their last U-Sports memorable. I think it has been toughest for the older athletes during the past couple years. They both took a more challenging path to walk out as graduates on Saturday than those before them.”

  Hess, Arden, Alexander, Brown, Eric Louie, Stewardson and Hesterman will all compete at the 2022 Bell Canadian Swimming Trials  hosted in Victoria from April 5-10.

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