Athletes dive into Olympics

UBC swimmers are a major presence in international competition

by Bruce Mason staff writer

Keep your eye on the pool. You're certain to spot a UBC swimmer during the Summer Olympics, which begin Sept. 15 in Sydney. Nine members of the three-time CIAU champion UBC Thunderbirds will be among 39 swimmers representing Canada.

The impressive UBC roster includes Atlanta Olympic games silver medalist Marianne Limpert, CIAU female Swimmer of the Year Jessica Deglau, five-time 1999 CIAU gold medalist Mark Johnston and Commonwealth Games sensation Mark Versfeld.

For UBC and Canada head swim coach Tom Johnson the unprecedented number of university swimmers represents a decade of discipline and determination.

"We had a goal to become the best varsity swim program in the world, period," he says.

"As a national swim centre to enhance the high performance of elite athletes, we are able to forge partnerships with the Vancouver Aquatic Centre and Pacific Dolphins Swim Club and, with their support and UBC Athletics, we are able to develop swimmers." "Certainly we're on the right track and this represents a major step," he adds. "Obviously our medal performance is the prime indicator of success but UBC intends to continue to build a major international presence in swimming." Johnson will be accompanied by UBC assistant coach Randy Bennett. UBC women's basketball coach Deb Huband is assistant basketball coach for Canada's Olympic team and UBC cross-country track coach Marek Jedrzejek is the national team middle distance coach.

Although he had emergency quadruple bypass surgery less than a month ago, UBC sports medicine specialist Dr. Jack Taunton will serve as chief medical officer for Canada. He has been to three previous Olympics. Taunton, who ordered medical supplies, worked on scheduling and trauma and disaster protocols, is anxious to live in the village on what is dubbed the "Street of Dreams."

"It's a tremendous amount of work for which you don't get paid, but this is the pinnacle of competition in amateur sport,'' he says. "In a profession such as sports medicine, this is the event which comes around only every four years." Forty health personnel will be in Australia to deliver health services to Canada's finest athletes, including Dr. Bob McCormack, an orthopedic surgeon and associate clinical professor of Medicine.

ubc swimmers and events

Katie Brambley, 4x200-metre freestyle relay; Jessica Deglau, 100- and 200-metre butterfly, 200-metre freestyle, 4x100-and 4x200-metre freestyle relay; Dustin Hersee, 200-metre backstroke; Brian Johns, 200-metre individual medley, 4x200-metre freestyle relay; Mark Johnston, 200- and 400-metre freestyle; 4x200-metre freestyle relay; Marianne Limpert, 200-metre individual medley, 100-metre freestyle, 4x100-, 4x200-metre freestyle relay, 4x100-metre medley relay; Timothy Peterson, 1500-metre freestyle; Kelly Stefanyshyn, 100- and 200-metre backstroke; 4x100-metre medley relay; Mark Versfeld, 100-metre backstroke and 4x100-metre relay.