There’s no time to dry off for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns swimmers.
Fresh off a successful weekend at the U-Sports swimming championships that saw the team earn five medals, seven Pronghorns are preparing for the 2022 Canadian swim trials in early April.
That performance breaks the previous program record of four medals at one national championship, set back in 2000.
Apollo Hess brought home three individual medals — two gold and one silver — while also being a part of the first relay team in school history to finish on the U-Sport podium, winning a silver medal in both the 4×100 freestyle and 4×100 medley relays.
“It was an awesome meet,” head coach Peter Schori said. “It was historic for U of L and for some of the individuals, so we want to enjoy those and see if there’s some things we can improve on.”
It was a record-breaking weekend for Hess. The U of L freshman set a new U-Sports record in the 50-metre breaststroke during the preliminary round, before setting a new benchmark in the finals, breaking the Canadian senior record with a time of 26.65 seconds.
“It went way better than I’d ever imagined,” said Hess, who was named U-Sports rookie of the year and a first-team all-Canadian.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. It was a huge confidence boost knowing I had those three guys backing me up.”
Now the team will try to balance recovery with performance, before heading to the Canadian trials in Victoria, which begin on April 5.
“We plan for this in advance. The one thing we couldn’t plan for is the emotional high they’re on, but when we have two meets in a fairly short timeframe like this and they both involve travel… you almost can’t rest them too much,” Schori said.
“I have to be a little bit patient as a coach and allow them a little bit longer leash than they would normally have and they trust me and I trust them on that. We keep touching different energy systems so they stay sharp over the next seven to 10 days.”
“This week is just going to be fine-tuning,” Hess said. “The racing provides a stimulus and we get a little bit tired and worn out, so it’s nice to get a week for recovery.
“We have our racecar built pretty much and we’re just kind of tightening some screws here and there.”
Raine Arden, Chris Alexander, Parker Brown, Eric Louie, Hunter Stewardson, Emilia Hesterman and Hess will represent the Pronghorns at the Canadian trials.