Clan swim team shows marked improvement at nationals

Adrian VanderHelm blazed a trail for the Clan’s future male athletes. Image courtesy of Burnaby Now.
Adrian VanderHelm blazed a trail for the Clan’s future male athletes. Image courtesy of Burnaby Now.
Adrian VanderHelm blazed a trail for the Clan’s future male athletes. Image courtesy of Burnaby Now.

SFU’s swim team made a strong statement during the NCAA Division II National Championships in Indianapolis, IN. From Wednesday, March 11 to Saturday, March 14, the Clan were tested against the NCAA’s finest, with the women’s team showing a marked improvement by tallying 110 points and a 12th-place finish. 

Prior to the meet, head swimming coach Liam Donnelly made his intentions clear on finishing with a higher standing.

“Last year, with five women, we placed top 20, and when we left the meet we committed to finish top 10 this year,” Donnelly told SFU Athletics. “Our freshmen coming in have bought into the challenge.”

Although the team narrowly missed the top 10, they did make a splash with their first-ever male competitor. 

Freshman Adrian VanderHelm blazed a trail for the Clan’s future male athletes, earning a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle. The Barrie, ON native, who was the first male swimmer from SFU to qualify for the national championship, became the Clan’s first All-American male swimmer. VanderHelm continued to challenge the odds and took eighth place in the 100-yard freestyle on the final day of the championships.

Four out of the nine women sent to compete for SFU were seniors, and took the stage in Indianapolis for what would be their final meet for the Clan. Swimmer Carmen Nam turned in her personal best time on the 200-yard butterfly. Nam’s record time helped gain a berth into the “A” finals and bolster the team’s progress with a seventh-place finish.

Fellow senior Nicole Cossey made a strong push to follow up on her second place finish in the 100-yard freestyle event last year, but lost a place in the “A” finals by two hundredths of a second. In addition to her 14th-place finish, she helped sophomore Lauren Swistak, senior Alex Schofield, and freshman Maran Kokoszka place fifth in the 800-yard relay.

Schofield, Swistak, Cossey, and freshman Sidney Peake also teamed up for a 12th-place finish at the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“Every one of the girls on the relay elevated their performance and found a little extra to give to the team — and we needed it,” said Donnelly.

The Clan hopes to carry on the momentum from their performance in the championship towards future challenges.

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