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Close up photo of Mitchel Ferraro in the ready position at the start of a race.
Mitchel Ferraro. Photo by Martin Bazyl

The (Virtual) Shape of Water

Varsity Blues swimmers competed against a team in Britain – but neither left their own country

Varsity Blues swimmers competed against Britain’s Loughborough University in November – but neither team left their home country.

It was the Blues’ first virtual competition, with each team swimming the same events in the same order on the same weekend while the scores were posted electronically. The Loughborough team edged out both the Blues men and women, but the Blues produced some excellent times. (U of T student and world champion swimmer Kylie Masse set a new Varsity record by nearly three seconds.)

“It was both exciting and stressful, since racing an opponent who isn’t there shifts the pressure to racing the clock and hoping for the best,” says men’s Blues co-captain Mitchel Ferraro.

The idea for the electronic meet evolved out of a friendship between Loughborough’s head coach and Blues head coach Byron MacDonald. “Loughborough is home to some of the best swimmers in the U.K.,” says MacDonald. “We knew we would have a major challenge.”

Plans are now in the works to turn the virtual meet into a physical meet, with Loughborough hosting the Blues this fall. “It’ll be a thrilling opportunity to race the people behind the virtual times,” says Ferraro.

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