TRU WolfPack swimmers gear up for Canada West championships

Breena Rusnell
Image Credit: Thompson Rivers University

The 2016-17 Canada West swim championships are set for this weekend and for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack, they will have their largest presence yet.

Head coach Brad Dalke will be bringing five swimmers to the three day event at the Kinsman Sports Centre, which is being hosted by the University of Alberta.

Jagdeesh Uppal (4th year, Kamloops, BC) will be appearing in his third Canada West championship meet.  The WolfPack will have four female swimmers competing as well:  Taylor Carmichael (2ndyear, Merritt, BC) will be at her second Canada West championships. She will team up with first years Breena Rusnell (Fort McMurray, AB), Joelle Young (Fort McMurray, AB) and Gabrielle DaGasso (Kamloops, BC) in relay competitions.

“We are really excited about that fact,” said Dalke. “This will allow us to compete more towards the team championships on the girl’s side.”

Carmichael will swim in distance and backstroke events.  DaGasso is a sprint specialist.  Rusnell is also a specialist in sprint while Young competes in breast stroke events.    Uppal will be in the 50 meter free and breaststroke events.

Dalke is expecting Uppal to improve upon consolation final performance in the 200 meter breaststroke at last year’s Canada West championships.  “He is really trying to break into the finals this year.”

Rusnell is quite the story.  She started this school year with the WolfPack cross country team but decided to return to swimming. In her first meet in two years, she set the standard in three Canada West events: 200 IM, 50 Free, and 100 Free.

“For her, we are hoping to qualify for USport Nationals in one of the freestyle events.  Not sure if it will happen this weekend at Canada West but we have another competition in two weeks (MJB Law Invitational in Kamloops).  Any one of those competitions will be a great chance for her to qualify for USport Nationals.”

Dalke has been methodical in growing the TRU swim program and is looking for more development of the program at this weekend’s event.  “It (the program) has been growing organically with kids from within our program (Kamloops Classics swim club) along with the two young ladies from Fort McMurray. It has been a methodical slow process making sure as we have all our ‘ducks in a row’ as far as growing this program. We are trying—as a team—to break out of the bottom dwellers to try and take on schools like Regina. Our goal is to get kids qualified for USport Nationals. We aren’t concerned about the team championships at this point—more about the individual success. Our success with both university and club swimming is being noticed on the national stage so we have a lot of people interested in coming to Kamloops to swim in a varsity program.”

The Canada West championships run Friday through Sunday (Nov 25-27).

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