Kierra Smith
Courtesy of: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)

POINTE-CLAIRE, Canada, July 20. BEFORE the swimmers in Pointe-Claire even hit the water this evening at the Canadian Summer Nationals, it had already been a great day for Canada.

Although he was unable to catch Olympic gold medalist Ous Mellouli, Canadian open water swimmer Eric Hedlin earned a silver medal in the 5k Open Water World Championship event in Barcelona. Hedlin, who grew up in California but has Canadian citizenship, moved to Victoria, B.C. two years ago to completely commit to representing Canada on the world swimming stage. He trains under coach Randy Bennett, and alongside two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500 freestyle, Ryan Cochrane.

Back on Canadian soil, other young up-and-comers were making names for themselves in the absence of the National Team in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. In the women's 800 freestyle, Samantha Harding won her second gold of the competition, finishing in 8:45.58. On Wednesday, Harding also touched first in the women's 1500 freestyle.

In the 200 IM, Marni Oldershaw took gold on the women's side, just ahead of AYOF gold medalist Sydney Pickrem. Oldershaw won in 2:15.69, Pickrem made a move on Oldershaw during the freestyle, but it was not enough to catch her. She goes home with silver in 2:15.88, followed by Emily Overholt in 2:16.67. On the men's side, Evan White took his second gold of the meet, winning the event by over four seconds in 2:01.15.

When it came time for the splash and dash, only two women managed to break the 26-second barrier. Ariane Mainville, who already had two relay wins already from this weekend, took first in 25.79. Michelle Williams will go home with a collection of silver medals, finishing second in 25.91. David Hibberd of Simon Fraser Aquatics won the men's 50 freestyle in 23.19.

In the women's 200 breaststroke, Kierra Smith and Rachel Nicol fought a tough battle for the gold medal. Nicol, who won the 100 breaststroke earlier in this meet, was winning at the 150 mark. Smith, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Minnesota, managed to run her down in the final 50 meters. Smith finished in 2:28.40, Nicol touched just behind her in 2:28.76.

In the men's 200 breaststroke, Nick Kostiuk of the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club was first in 2:16.57. James Dergousoff was second in 2:17.02, and Frederic Le Blanc rounded out the podium in 2:17.99.

Kier Maitland completed his gold medal bookends, winning the final individual event of the swim meet, the 1500 freestyle. Maitland won fairly handily in 15:23.40, similar in fashion to his 800 freestyle victory on Wednesday evening.

Club Aquatic Montreal managed to sweep the women's relays, taking their third gold, this time in the 400 medley relay. The team of Leticia Lelli, Marie-Soleil Jean-LaChapelle, Frederique Cigna and Ariane Mainville finished in 4:14.34.

In the men's 400 medley relay, Cascade Swim Club's streak was broken, and the Oakville Aquatic Club team of Grant Harding, Evan White, Gamal Assaad and Bryce Kwiecien-Delaney took gold in 3:47.35.

Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.

Follow her on twitter @juliah2o

Results: Canada Summer Nationals: Day Four