(WOLFVILLE, NS) It wasn't exactly home, but Wolfville was close enough for Leah Smal.
After two seasons at the University of Calgary, the Fredericton native has returned home and is swimming for the UNB Reds.
Smal won the women's 50-metre and 100-metre backstroke events at the Jack Scholz Memorial, the first meet on the Atlantic University Sport swimming schedule for the 2018-19 season. The event was hosted by Acadia University.
Smal also swam to a third place finish in the women's 100-metre freestyle and was fourth in the 50-metre freestyle.
"It was super exciting for me to get back on the blocks after taking last year off," said Smal, the 2016 U SPORTS women's rookie of the year. "I can't wait to see where the rest of the season takes us."
Smal's three podium finishes were part of a strong showing by the Reds.
On the men's side, Noah Horwood won the 50-metre backstroke and swam second in the 50-metre freestyle.
Eric Meng was second in the men's 100-metre and 200-metre freestyle events, and swam third, behind teammate Horwood, in the 50-metre freestyle.
"It was a great checkpoint meet for the guys, to see where we are in our training," said Meng. "I've been shaking off some rust from taking the past year off, but it was really exciting to be back in the pool racing. Lots of guys were competing for podium spots and finished hard at the end of their races, which is always promising this early in the year."
Veteran Michael Walz took second place in the men's 200-metre butterfly, while freshman Erik Staeben was second in the 100-metre butterfly and third in the 50-metre butterfly.
"I'm pleased with our results in the pool this weekend," said Reds head coach Robin Ferdinand. "Leah Smal and Erik Staeben both had multiple top three finishes at their first meet with UNB swim caps, so the future of Reds Swimming looks bright."
"This was a training meet for us and everyone picked their own events," said Ferdinand. "We weren't worried about team scores this meet, but it was good to get a feel for what events we need to work at to increase our points for AUS."
The Dalhousie Tigers captured the team title, while UNB finished third.
"Overall, I was proud of the way our team performed," said Lance Cansdale, head coach of the Dal Tigers. "Our women showed their quality and our men showed some grit."
The Tigers were winners in 22 of 35 events, including the mixed relays which ended each session.
The second meet of the AUS season is scheduled for November 3rd, at Mount Allison.
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics with files from Acadia Athletics
PHOTOS BY: Peter Oleskevich/for Acadia Athletics