VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 22. THE first night of the Mel Zajac Canada Cup featured the standard distance freestyle timed finals heats as well as a plethora of 50-meter stroke prelims to set up the rest of the weekend.
The meet typically features some sort of strong guest contingent, with Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte having previously competed. This year, California brought its all-star crew that includes Missy Franklin, while Club Wolverine’s post-grads also made the trip north. The Canadians held their own against many of the top swimmers from the lower 48.
Tonight featured a full boat of distance freestyle timed finals heats. Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochrane put up the top swim of the night with a 7:57.22 to win the men’s 800-meter free. That effort jumped Cochrane up to 12th in the SwimVortex world rankings as he won the race by more than 15 seconds ahead of his Island Swimming training partners. Will Brothers took second in 8:14.24, while Keegan Zanatta wound up third in 8:22.27.
Island had another strong outing in the men’s 1500-meter free as Eric Hedlin raced his way to a win in 15:33.61. Keyano’s Kier Maitland finished second in 15:49.19 with ESWIM’s Tristan Cole rounding out the top three in 15:51.77. That’s four of the top six times in the men’s distance events for Island.
Keyano’s Tabitha Baumann clinched the women’s 1500-meter free title in 16:41.31, as she smoked the rest of the field in the process. Caitlin Hodge finished second in the event with a 17:39.42, while Brooke Lamoureux, just 15, wound up third in 17:45.98.
Brittany MacLean, who stands fifth in the world rankings in the women’s 800-meter free with an 8:24.91 from Canadian Nationals, cruised to victory in the event tonight in 8:38.76. Island’s Alex Aitchison checked in with a second-place time of 8:54.19 with Keyano 15-year-old Sophia Saroukian finishing third in 8:58.22.
UBCD’s Noemie Thomas kicked off the evening with a 27.14 to lead the women’s 50-meter fly qualifying. NYAC’s Michelle Williams touched second in 27.54, while PPO’s Sandrine Mainville claimed third in 27.55.
California went 4-7-8 in the championship heat with Farida Osman (27.77), Kelly Naze (28.28) and Rachel Bootsma (28.38) making it into the top eight. CAMO’s Katerine Savard (27.91) and PPO’s Audrey Lacroix (27.92) also made the stacked finale.
Club Wolverine earned a 1-3 finish in the men’s 50-meter fly qualifying as Geoff Cheah paced prelims in 25.01 and Sean Fletcher clocked a 25.08. LASC’s Kyle Troskot split the difference in second with a 25.07.
UBCD’s Coleman Allen (25.32), CAMO’s Owen Daly (25.41), RAPID’s Nicolaas Dekker (25.53), ESWIM’s Hassaan Abdel-Khalik (25.64) and Reddeer Catalina’s Ben Berg (25.75) rounded out the championship heat in the sprint fly.
In the least surprising outcome of the night, the California Golden Bear women dominated the women’s 50-meter back. While Cal’s Teri McKeever has held Missy Franklin out of the backstroke events for NCAA Championship level events this year, she’s definitely put on a show in them away from NCAAs.
Franklin’s sprint-centered teammate Rachael Bootsma led qualifying in 29.08 with Franklin taking second in 29.23. Elizabeth Pelton snared third in 29.38 with teammate Melanie Klaren winding up seventh in 29.85.
Young 15-year-old Keaton Blovad rocked a 29.45 for fourth overall, while Chantal Van Landeghem finished fifth in 29.71. Brooklyn Snodgrass (29.79) and Dominique Bouchard (29.91) also made the top eight.
Russell Wood touched out Jeffrey Swanston, 27.00 to 27.02, for the top seed in the men’s 50-meter backstroke, while Club Wolverine’s Geoff Cheah earned his second finale of the night with a third-place 27.13.
Cheah’s teammate George Bovell (27.66) and Sean Fletcher (27.75) also made the championship eight with Fletcher picking up a second A final as well. Tim Zeng (27.48), Adam Best (27.55) and Markus Thormeyer (27.82) snagged the final transfer spots into the championship finale.
Tera Van Beilen cruised to the top seed in the women’s 50-meter breast with a 32.29, while Tianna Rissling earned second in 32.62. Marie Jean-Lachapelle picked up third in 32.69 with Fiona Doyle the only other sub-33 with a fourth-place 32.70.
Bronwyn Pasloski (33.22), Celina Li (33.31), Amanda Reason (33.32) and Kiersten Gilberg (33.57) turned in fifth through eighth-place finishes in preliminary qualifying.
Club Wolverine’s Richard Funk closed out the preliminary portion of the evening session with a 28.48 in the men’s 50-meter breast. Teammate Zach Hayden placed second in 29.08, while another Wolverine George Bovell placed fifth in 29.53.
Rafa Van Leeuwaarde (29.25), Andrew Poznikoff (29.52), Nick Kostiuk (29.61), Sergey Holson (29.62) and Antoine Bujold (30.20) closed out the top eight in the sprint breast event.