Kelly Aspinall wins five gold at championships

Nanoose Bay standout’s Olympic quest took another stroke in the right direction at the CIS Swimming Championships in Calgary.

Kelly Aspinall

Kelly Aspinall

Kelly Aspinall’s one-man assault on the clock continues, and the Nanoose Bay standout’s Olympic quest took another stroke in the right direction at the CIS Swimming Championships in Calgary over the weekend, where he powered his way to five gold medals, a silver, and two new collegiate records.

At the closing ceremonies on Saturday, the 6’4”, 185 pound speedster was named the 2012/2013 CIS Male Swimmer of the Year.

“It was a good weekend; very exciting,” Aspinall, who is majoring in Environmental Sustainability at UBC said Sunday from the mainland when The NEWS caught up with him by phone, his competitive side pushing through. “There was a little bit of a hiccup the last night finishing second in my last race, I should have won it, but I was happy.”

In the mix with more than 300 of the top university swimmers in Canada including 10 current Olympians at the University of Calgary Aquatic Centre Feb. 21-23, Aspinall, 23, garnered gold medals in the 50 Back, 100 Back, 50 Free, 4×100 Free and the M4x100 Medley to go along with a silver medal in the 100 Free.

A Ballenas grad who came up through the local RAC Breakers swim team with his older sister Jessica, Kelly also set new Canadian Interuniversity Sport records in the 50 and 100 Back events with times of 24.05 and 51.95.

All five gold medals and both records came by way of personal best times.

The previous record for the 50 Back, held by Calgary’s Chris Renaud, was a world record at the time and had stood for 16 years.

Kelly’s parents, Bob and Peggy — and the rest of the clan — mom said, “are incredibly proud.”

“I’ve been swimming well, so I was hoping to turn in some good times,” he said, adding Friday “was a great day. I would have liked the Canadian record as well, but overall I’m happy with the win.”

Aspinall’s times in Calgary also secured him a spot on Team Canada’s World University Games’ team selected to go to Russia this summer.

“I’ve been struggling in pre-lims for qualifying for Russia this year a bit,” he said, pointing out “my roommate made the team the first day, so I definitely wanted to try and bring it. I knew I could do it, I just had to put it together at the time there.”

This is Aspinall’s third selection to the World University Games’ team which is put together the same way as the Olympic teams. He represented the red and white in the 2009 World University Games in Serbia, and qualified for the 2011 Games in China, but had to pass that year due to injury.

“It’s very competitive,” he said of the WUG’s, and made the point this years is shaping up to be the best one yet.

“I only qualified in one event the last two times, and I’ve qualified in four events so far and hopefully a least one more and some relays, so that should be exciting.”

Back on Nov. 30 of 2011 we reported on Aspinall and the five gold medals he garnered at the Canada Cup, where he also broke two UBC records.

At the CIS finals the T-Bird Women won their team title and the UBC men finished second, a mere 15 points behind of the University of Toronto in one of the closest finishes ever in the history of the event.

This is Aspinall’s final year of eligibility in the CIS, and the UBC Thunderbirds swim team stalwart is poised to make some noise in the upcoming World Swimming Trials being held down Island at Commonwealth Pool the end of March.

“That’s a big one,” Kelly said cool as a cucumber when asked to rate the WST on the importance scale. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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