T-bird swimmers leave rest of West in big wake

UBC swimmers have been making waves nationally and internationally with a string of successes that includes the first ever UBC sweep of the Canada West University Athletic Association Men's and Women's Swim Championships.

The teams blew the competition out of the water in mid-January despite the absence of top swimmer Mark Versfeld, who was making it clear to an international field at the World Aquatic Championships in Perth, Australia, that he's a force to be reckoned with.

Without Versfeld, the men's team overwhelmed the field at the Canada West championships with an aggregate total of 801 points, leaving defending champion Calgary floundering in second with 594 and Alberta in third with 537.5. Other competitors included teams from the universities of Victoria, Manitoba, Lethbridge and Regina.

UBC swimmers broke five conference records in the process including Greg Hamm's 100-metre backstroke swim of 56.68 seconds.

The women's team, led by record-breaking performances by first-year sensations Katie Brambley and Amanda Marin and 1996 Olympic 100-metre butterfly competitor Sarah Evanetz, narrowly edged the host Victoria Vikes 582.5 to 569. Calgary finished third with 450.5.

Brambley, an 18-year-old Victoria native, set two meet records with a 4:20.68 performance in the 400-metre freestyle and a 2:03.50 swim in 200-metre freestyle. Evanetz, the previous record holder in 200 freestyle and the winner of a total of 15 gold medals in her three CIAU national championship appearances to date, broke the record for 100-metre breast-stroke with a swim of 1:12.64. Marin rounded out the record-breaking performances with a swim of 2:15.07 in 200-metre backstroke.

Meanwhile, Versfeld was making an international mark by capturing a silver medal in the 100-metre breaststroke at the Worlds, followed by a bronze in the 200-metre backstroke. He will rejoin the UBC team as it sets its sights on the CIAU Championships in Quebec Feb. 21-23.

UBC narrowly missed its attempt to capture dual CIAU national championships in 1996/97 when the women's team won its third consecutive CIAU crown while the men fell second to Calgary. Both UBC teams are currently ranked first in Canada.