FORT MYERS, Fla. - After helping lead the Eagles to their first-ever swimming and diving conference championships, freshman Leah Daniel (Winnipeg, Manitoba) did not take two weeks away from the water like most of her teammates. Daniel had other plans for her college Spring Break; she planned to continue training. Having already decided to compete in Swimming Canada’s flagship event of the Spring, Daniel was back in the pool working out just two days after bringing home the championship trophy.
With two weeks training, mostly only with Coach Studd and sometimes on her own, Daniel flew to Toronto to swim six events racing Canada’s top swimmers from across the country. On Wednesday, March 11, Daniel warmed up the meet with the 200meter freestyle achieving a personal record of 2:03.36 and earning 30th place. Later that day, she swam the 1500m race in another best time of 16:53.37 scoring six points with an 11th place finish. (The 1500m race is the metric equivalence of the 1650 yard freestyle which Daniel won at Conference Champs only 18 days previous.)
Day two was no different as the Winnipeg native clocked another best in the 400m Individual Medley (4:51.10) just shy of scoring in 18th place. On Saturday morning Daniel concluded her Nationals campaign in the 800m freestyle in a final personal record of 8:49.28 earning five points for her 12th place finish.
This meet marked the first time Daniel returned to Canada to race since she began training in the United States last August. “I was excited to see all my hard work over the past seven months culminate at these two meets, Spring Nationals and the CCSA Championships,” said Daniel. “Throughout the year I could see my progression in short course yards, but didn’t know if that would convert to meters for me. It was thrilling to swim so many best times in meters, as I’m most familiar with this course.”
Part of Canadian Spring Nationals is to host the trials for World Championships in open water swimming. The 5 kilometer race was swum on Sunday, March 15 in Toronto after the pool was changed to long course. The top two finalists received an invitation to represent Canada at the World Championship Meet. Daniel completed the race in 1:01:32, finishing sixth just seconds behind fifth.
The Eagles collegiate season is complete for the 2008-09 academic year. The swimming and diving team finished the season with an 11-4 dual meet record and won the conference championships for the first time in school history.