VICTORIA, British Columbia, April 1. WITH all but one of Canada’s swimming medalists from the 2010 Commonwealth Games now retired, this week’s Canadian nationals will be searching for new talent to put the country on the medal podium multiple times in Scotland this summer.
With Brent Hayden, Julia Wilkinson and Stefan Hirniak all moving on to the next phase of their lives outside the pool, Swimming Canada is on the prowl for new talent to groom that will use this summer’s Commonwealth Games as a stepping stone to the 2016 Olympics.
The meet is also selecting swimmers to compete in the Pan Pacific championships in Australia, taking place a couple of weeks after the Commonwealth Games. Swimming Canada has set a list of qualifying times that equal the 16th-fastest time at last year’s world championships for automatic selection to the international roster.
Men 800 free
With the Commonwealth Games not featuring the men’s 800 freestyle, the event was not being used to pick members of the international squads. This would explain the absence of such talents as national record holder Ryan Cochrane and NCAA runner-up Jeremy Bagshaw. Kier Maitland, who could challenge for a spot on the international team later in the meet, opened up his competition with an 8:02.69 to win by nearly 25 meters. It’s just off his personal best, an 8:01.61 from back in 2010.
Kyle Watson won the battle for second over Wyatt Yarish, 8:18.29 to 8:19.13.
Women 50 fly
Three women separated from the field to create an exciting battle for the title in the 50 butterfly at the Candian long course nationals.
In the end, it was Sandrine Mainville who took the title in the non-selection event with a 26.43. National record holder Katerine Savard was second with a 26.56 while Noemie Thomas placed third with a 26.63.
Men 50 fly
The sprint butterfly at the Canadian long course nationals featured national record holder Kelly Aspinall going for his Canadian record of 23.52. With the event not being used to select swimmers for international squads, Aspinall and others were using the race to prepare for hopefully getting selected to race abroad this summer.
Aspinall, 25, posted a 24.09 to win comfortably over Cameron Kidd and his 24.38. Gamal Assaad was third with a 24.69.
Women 200 free
Brittany MacLean, fresh off a successful campaign at the NCAA championships in the United States for the University of Georgia, posted a big win in the 200 freestyle tonight.
MacLean took off in the final 50 meters to post a 1:57.57 to win, beating her personal best of 1:58.09 from 2012. Samantha Cheverton took second in a 1:59.28, while Alyson Ackman placed third in 1:59.60 to round out the competitors under two minutes in the event.
The event was the first race of the night to get swimmers onto the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific teams. The qualifying time was 1:58.93, which was the 16th-fastest time at last summer’s world championships. MacLean got under that standard with a lifetime best. Canada could field an 800 free relay if the cumulative time of the top four beat the 7:57.41 standard.
Men 200 free
One of the best fields of eight swimmers we’ll see this week on the men’s side lined up in the 200 free final, fighting for a spot on the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships teams.
Coleman Allen took the race out hard, touching first at 50 and 100 meters. But distance star Ryan Cochrane was lurking and accelerated to the finish with a 1:49.04. The time wasn’t fast enough to automatically qualify in the event for international competition, as 1:48.35 stood as the standard to beat in the final. Cochrane will not need to worry about qualifying, though. As a world championship medalist in the 1500 free, all he has to do is finish third in the mile later this week to earn the chance to swim at a third Commonwealth Games and compete in Australia at the Pan Pacific championships.
Alec Page, Cochrane’s teammate at Island Swimming, touched second in 1:49.33 while Allen was third with a 1:49.40. Notably, Jeremy Bagshaw, the NCAA runner-up in the 1650 free, was fourth in 1:50.02 after qualifying seventh.
Women 100 back
Two recent competitors at the women’s NCAA championships battled for the win in the 100 backstroke to get a spot on the international racing squad.
Sinead Russell, fresh from racing for Florida at the NCAAs, wore a Gators swim cap as she won the race in 1:00.00. It’s just off her national record of 59.68, but an impressive swim on her second taper. Right behind her was Brooklynn Snodgrass, who swims for Indiana collegiately. Snodgrass posted a 1:00.23 to just barely beat her lifetime best. Hilary Caldwell, who will be a major force in the 200 back, was third in 1:00.99.
All three swimmers beat the standard time of 1:01.25, so they will each represent Canada in the event at the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships.
Men 100 back
By the slimmest of margins, Russell Wood became the first male swimmer to qualify for the international travel roster with a win in the 100 backstroke.
Wood charged to the wall to win in a 54.71, beating the qualifying time of 54.72 and his lifetime best of 54.86. Matthew Swanston, a Stanford alum, placed second with a 55.83, while Joe Byram took third with a 55.85.
Women 200 breast
The future of women’s breaststroke looks strong for Canada, based on the results of the 200 breaststroke at the Canadian nationals that looks to select up to three for each individual event.
Tera Van Beilen, who points more toward the 100 breaststroke, won the longer race with a 2:26.66 to beat out a close field of four women looking to get on the international squad. Kierra Smith, who recently raced in the championship final of the 200 breast at the NCAA championships, placed second with a 2:26.74, a second off her lifetime best of 2:25.78. Martha McCabe, who was struggling with shoulder injury, placed third with a 2:27.03. All three beat the qualifying standard of 2:28.13, which represents the 16th-fastest time from last summer’s world championships.
Ashley McGregor also beat the qualifying time with a 2:27.11 but placed fourth.
Men 200 breast
After exceptional performances at the NCAA championships while representing the University of Michigan, Richard Funk posted a lifetime best to win the 200 breast title handily at the Canadian long course nationals.
Funk’s 2:12.90 beat his personal best of 2:13.90 but won’t be enough to get him automatically on the international roster. Canada set the standard at 2:11.71, which was the 16th-fastest time at last year’s world championships. Funk, as with many others who just missed qualifying, could get on the roster if they meet lower criteria set by Swimming Canada.
Tying for second place were Mack Darragh and Evan White, who were well off Funk’s pace with matching times of 2:15.40. Coincidentally, Darragh and White are teammates for the Oakville Swim Club.
Women 1500 free
The first day of competition finished with the women’s 1500 freestyle, which was not an event used to select swimmers for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships.
Olivia Anderson and Sophia Saroukian swam stroke for stroke for the first 1000 meters of the race, until Saroukian accelerated through the final 500 meters to claim the national title in a time of 16:48.89. Anderson placed second with a 16:57.87 while Tessa Cieplucha took third with a 17:08.59.