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UBC in front after opening day of CIS swim championships

The Canadian Press

2/21/2013 11:53:01 PM

CALGARY -- The defending champion UBC Thunderbirds have taken the lead in both the women's and men's side after Day 1 at the CIS swimming championships.

The Thunderbirds hold a 232-184 lead over Calgary in the women's standings, and 176-168 advantage over the Dinos in the men's. Toronto ia also in the conversation on the men's side with 163 points.

Laval (80 points) and Alberta (78) round out the top five in the men's standings, while Western (83), Toronto (74), and Montreal (69) trail UBC and Alberta on the women's side.

"We know this is going to be a battle on the men's side, tooth and nail," said second-year UBC head coach Steve Price. "To be in front is just great -- it means we're in the meet. There's a lot of swimming left, but we've put ourselves in a good position."

Four CIS championship records fell on the opening day, including the longest-standing mark in the book. UBC's Coleman Allen touched the wall in 51.88 seconds in the 100-metre butterfly, lowering the record set by Calgary's Tom Ponting all the way back in 1989 by nearly three quarters of a second.

It was the second time on the day that Allen had broken Ponting's record, also beating it in the morning preliminary session. His swim in the 100 fly came just minutes after capturing another gold medal, this time in the 200-metre freestyle.

"It was a good day, but a hard one," said Allen, who hails from Spokane, Wash. "I was pretty stressed out this morning, but I just relied on the training I've had and tried to clear my head and swim smart. Needless to say, it worked out really well."

Toronto's Zack Chetrat, the silver medallist in the 100 butterfly, also came in under Ponting's 1989 record time.

Allen's Thunderbird teammate Kelly Aspinall also broke a CIS championship record twice on the day, lowering the mark in the 50-metre backstroke in both the preliminary and final races. Aspinall's new CIS mark is 24.05 seconds, two tenths faster than Calgary's Chris Renaud's 1997 record.

The other two meet records to fall came courtesy the host Dinos. In the men's 100-metre breaststroke, fifth-year Dino Jason Block won his fourth consecutive CIS gold medal with his time of 59.08 seconds. The previous mark of 59.34 was set by UBC's Scott Dickens, the last man to win the event before Block's four-year run, back in 2009.

"I've been chasing that record for a number of years, and it felt good to finally get it," said Calgary native Block. "Especially to do it in my last year, at home, it meant a lot."

Block's teammate Tianna Rissling won the women's 400-metre individual medley, lowering the 10-year-old CIS mark set by Toronto's Liz Warden by four tenths, touching the wall in 4:37.81. Rissling also captured a silver medal in the 100-metre breaststroke.

"I knew I was close to it coming in, but that wasn't really what I was shooting for," explained Rissling, who hails from Redcliff, Alta. "I was mostly just seeing where I was with that race. But getting the record is definitely a good accomplishment."

Rissling's teammates won the women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay to cap the night, with the team of Erica Morningstar, Amanda Reason, Lindsay Delmar, and Fiona Doyle out-touching UBC's foursome by more than two seconds.

In the men's relay, the Thunderbirds squad of Kelly Aspinall, Luke Peddie, Sergey Holson, and Allen beat out the Dinos by nearly a second and a half to claim gold.

Calgary and UBC combined for nine of the 12 gold medals available on Day 1. For the host Dinos, Delmar opened with a title in the women's 200-metre freestyle, with Doyle joining her atop the podium after winning the 100-metre breaststroke.

Montreal's Gabrielle Soucisse captured gold in the women's 50-metre backstroke, nudging UBC's Grainne Pierse by just two one-hundredths. In the women's 100-metre butterfly, Guelph's Alisha Harricharan took home gold with her time of 59.72.

And in the men's 400-metre individual medley, McGill star Steven Bielby captured his third gold medal in four years in a time of 4:15.14.