Swim team stays afloat despite rough waters

A challenging but successful first semester for WolfPack swimmers

Despite an injured swimmer and a tough schedule change to Canada West, the WolfPack swim team has seen success and gained interest for next year.

Head coach Brad Dalke had been trying to get a WolfPack swim team going for 10 years, and in September it finally became a reality. The team has three swimmers: Sarah McChesney, Jagdeesh Uppal and Jacquelyn Belanger. Dalke hopes to get another four or five swimmers recruited for next year.

“We’ve got lots of people interested. The very fact that we’ve got a team going has made a significant impact. Everywhere we go I’ve got people that are coming up and talking to me and expressing an interest in TRU,” Dalke said.

Jagdeesh Uppal hopes to qualify for the CIS championships, either this year or next. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Jagdeesh Uppal hopes to qualify for the CIS championships, either this year or next. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Dalke said there has been a lot of interest from swimmers in Calgary and Lethbridge.

“Within our own swim club, the Kamloops Classic swim team, we’ve got a number of kids that we’re looking at that will be graduating this year and that are interested in staying at home,” Dalke said. “I would say it looks pretty good for next year.”

The ‘Pack has faced some unexpected challenges this year, starting with Belanger suffering an injury and being unable to swim for the past few weeks. Belanger will be getting back into the water with the ‘Pack on Dec. 28 when they go to San Diego for a two-week training camp.

Another challenge came for the ‘Pack when the Canada West championships were moved up two months from January to November.

“We had new recruits coming in like Sarah McChesney. It takes a little while to get used to how she responds to rest and training and all of those kinds of things so it was more challenging from that perspective,” Dalke said.

But McChesney certainly rose to the challenge. She was the only swimmer to qualify for the Canada West Swimming Championships, which had eight university teams in attendance and were held from Nov. 21 to 23 in Lethbridge. McChesney placed eighth overall in the women’s competition.

She considers her specialty to be freestyle, however she swam two personal bests in butterfly races at Canada West.

The ‘Pack’s only male swimmer, Jagdeesh Uppal, saw some success during the Penticton Iron Pentathlon. Uppal placed 12th overall in the men’s category, fourth in the 50- and 100-metre breaststroke and fifth in the 200-metre breaststroke.

Uppal didn’t qualify for Canada West championships this year, but still has the goal to qualify for the upcoming CIS championships in February.

“It’s my goal next year, and right now too, but it will be difficult making it this year,” he said.

Both Uppal and McChesney need to shave time off their races if they are going to qualify for the CIS championships. The best chance for them both to qualify will be at the MJB Law Classic meet, which will be held from Dec. 12 to 14 at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre.

McChesney needs to shave 30 seconds off her 800-metre freestyle race to qualify for the championships.

“It’s a doable target for her because she’s certainly training at that level right now in her practices,” Dalke said.

Both Uppal and McChesney will be tapered by cutting down their practice time before the meet, which is expected to have over 500 swimmers from B.C. and Alberta.