Two Former Pioneer Swimmers, One Former Gymnast Selected for Tokyo Olympics

Former Denver Pioneer swimmers Bailey Andison and Adriel Sanes have been chosen by Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands, respectively, to swim for their countries at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, starting later this month in Tokyo, a year later than planned, of course, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and DU will also have gymnastics alum Simona Castro appearing in her third  Olympics for Chile, her home country.

Both swimmers had great careers at DU and transferred after their junior years in Crimson and Gold — Bailey to Indiana University in 2018 and Sanes to Auburn University in 2021.

Andison, a native of Smith’s Falls, Ontario, is excited to be an Olympian, telling Canadian TV network CTV:  “You dream about it your whole life, and then within a weekend it becomes a reality.” Andison is set to compete at Tokyo 2020 in the 200-meter Individual Medley.

Andison became a Denver Pioneer in 2015, and immediately became a DU legend, piling up Summit League and NCAA honors in her three seasons in Crimson and Gold. She was named the 2016 Summit League Newcomer of the Year, and the 2017 and 2018 Summit League Women’s Swimmer of the Year.  She was a two-time, first-team all-American in 2017 and 2018, as well as an all-American in 2016, with her best performance in the 400 Individual Medley, where she placed fifth in the 2017 NCAA Championships, with a school-record 4:03.09.

She also qualified to represent Canada for the 2017 World University Games in Taiwan.  In Taipei, she made the semifinals of the 200 Individual Medley, placing 10th, and she was 14th in the heats of the 400 IM.

After her junior year at DU in 2018, Andison transferred to Indiana University for its advanced Olympic training environment but noted in comments to SwimSwam, “Denver, as a program, built me…I owe a lot of thank you to my former program.”

In her senior year all-American season at Indiana in 2019, Andison won the Big 10 title in the 400 IM and scored a lifetime best in the 200 IM, helping the Hoosiers to their first women’s Big 10 title in eight years.

She later swam for Canada in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru where she won her first international medal – a bronze in the 200 IM.

Sanes, who was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands but grew up in Houston, had a very strong college career at DU.  Unfortunately, his DU career ended last year,  in the wake of violating team COVID-19 safety protocols when he and many of his teammates attended an off-campus party in the fall. After his team suspension ended, he (and a number of his DU teammates) chose not to return to DU for the swim season. Sanes decided to remain in Denver to swim under coach Todd Schmitz, who is best known as the coach of 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin. He has since transferred to Auburn University, where he will swim next season.

DU’s Adriel Sanes will swim for the US Virgin Islands at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Denver Athletics

Sanes lit up the scoreboard for DU, as he was named the 2020 Men’s Swimmer of the Summit League Championships. Sanes was all-league in the 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay, 200 IM, 100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke, 400 Freestyle Relay, setting four Summit League Championship records in the process.  He had qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships in the 100 Breaststroke and 200 Breaststroke before the event was canceled due to Coronavirus.

He also finished 53rd in the 100 Breastroke at the 18th FINA World Championships for the USVI, setting a DU Long Course Record with a 1:02.91. Sanes is the reigning USVI national record-holder in the 50, 100, and 200-meter breaststrokes in long course, as well as the 50 Butterfly in long course and the 200 Breaststroke in short course.

He’s slated to swim the 200 Breaststroke in Tokyo for the USVI.

Castro, the first Chilean female gymnast to make it it to the Olympic Games, first appeared in the 2012 London Summer Games, finishing in 43rd place in the all-around. She also competed at the 2016 Olympic Games finishing in 52nd place in the all-around. At DU Castro competed for the Pioneers from 2009-2013.

Simona Castro competes in the London 2012 Olympics Photo: IOC

These three athletes are the latest in a long line of over 50 Pioneer athletes to participate in the Olympic Games. 

It should also be noted that DU will also have alumnus Gregg Popovich in Tokyo, as head coach of Team USA’s NBA players in men’s basketball. Popovich earned his master’s degree at DU in physical education and sports science in the late 1970s, but was not a Pioneer athlete, having competed at the U.S. Air Force Academy as an undergraduate.

Of the over 50 DU athletes to compete in the Olympics winter or summer, the only two to ever win a gold medal (as athletes) were summer athletes: Vince Borlya won gold in basketball for the USA in 1948 in London, while Jerome Biffle was the 1952 Olympic champion in the long jump in Helsinki for Team USA.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus and begin on July 23rd, 2021.

Top Photo: Bailey Andison, a three-time all-American at DU, will swim for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. Courtesy Denver Athletics

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