North American Challenge Cup: Canada Dominates Opening Night

By David Rieder

SANTA CLARA, California, August 6. THE 2010 North American Challenge Cup opened last night with a dominant performance by the team from Canada. In 20 individual events contested for 15 and older swimmers, the team from Canada won 16 of them, with the remainder going to a team from Mexico and teams from three USA Swimming LSCs. The meet is held in long course meters.

Canada swept all four 15 & over 200 freestyles. Tasha Truscott won the 15-16 girls' race in 2:04.34, ahead of Pacific Northwest's Joanne Wu (2:07.21) and Southern California's Michaela Merlihan (2:08.35). Truscott's teammate Joe Byram took the boys' event in that age group, clocking 1:54.85, while Mexico's Andres Olvera Alejos (1:55.18) and Canada's Bryan Wray (1:55.82) also made the top three. Sarah Sumner and Jessica Plant produced a Canada 1-2 in the girls' 17 & over 200 free, with respective times of 2:03.61 and 2:06.32, with Mexico's Ferna Armenta Gaston finishing third (2:07.86). The Canadian 17-18 boys also went 1-2 in the 200 free, with Franco Petrone winning (1:55.66), just ahead of teammate Zack Fedak (1:55.81), with Southern California's Drew Peterson finishing third (1:58.02).

Pacific Northwest's Hannah Taylor broke the Canadian streak with a 5:01.61 decision in the 13-14 girls' 400 IM, beating Southern Calfornia's Kendall Brown (5:03.14), while Canada's Mariya Chekanovich managed a third-place finish, in 5:07.83. Canada's Mack Darragh and Brayden Salmon restored order in the 15-16 boys' 400 IM, with a 1-2 finish, in times of 4:26.37 and 4:26.07, beating out the third-place finisher, Southern California's Ryan Nelson (4:38.95). Canada's Nicki Fyfe easily won the 17-18 girls' 400 IM in 5:03.73, with Pacific Swimming's Megan Beach out-swimming Southern California's Megan Guerrero for second, 5:12.28 to 5:12.55. Mexico's Juan Del Pino Salas swam away with the 17-18 boys' 400 IM victory, winning in 4:33.40, while Canada went 2-3 with Jeremie Holdom (4:36.80) and Austin Rockett (4:38.26).

Truscott returned for a 15-16 girls' 100 fly triumph in 1:01.39, defeating Mexico's Melissa Mexia Okamura (1:03.72) and Pacific Northwest's Jennifer Domanowski (1:04.07). Canada's Edward Liu sped to a 15-16 boys' 100 fly win in 57.44, while Mexico's Luis Macias Padilla overtook Pacific Northwest's Chase Schell for second-place honors, clocking 58.60, to Schell's 59.43. Canada's Shannon Nell and Daniela Szalkai finished 1-2 in the 17-18 girls' event, with respective times of 1:03.60 and 1:04.57, with Southern California's Bianca Valencia third in 1:05.93. Mexico went 1-2 in the boys' event, with Luis Soto Ramirez (56.32) and Daniel Ramirez Carranza (56.73) both beating Pacific's Piankhi Gibson (58.01).

Chekanovych moved up from third in the 400 IM to first in the 15-16 girls' 200 breast, dominating the field in 2:34.77. Mexico's Jim Mayagoitia Ortiz defeated Pacific Northwest's Heather Harper, 2:41.98 to 2:42.20 in the battle for second place. Canada's Mack Darragh won the 15-16 boys' race in 2:23.31, with Pacific Northwest's Joey Enbody second (2:26.23) and Southern California's Zach Yong third (2:28.62). Canada went 1-3 in the 17-18 girls' 200 breast, with Michelle Fleming (2:36.83) and Jane Mortlock (2:45.36), while Southern California's Michelle Dockindorf split the difference with her second-place time of 2:37.30. Holdom also moved up from his second-place 400 IM swim to win the 17-18 boys' 200 breast in 2:26.05, well clear of second-place Colin Duffy of Southern California (2:27.28) and third-place Alejandro Torres Barraza of Mexico (2:29.51).

Southern California's Sammie Keehn edged Pacific's Rebecca Baxley in the 15-16 girls' 100 back, 1:06.28 to 1:06.50. Canada's Emily Doucette ended up third in 1:08.28. Canada's Joe Byram took the victory in the boys' race, narrowly defeating Mexico's Rod Martinez Aguilar, 59.54 to 59.66, while Salmon returned to grab third for Canada in 1:00.28. Canada's Jessica Plant posted a time of 1:05.28 for the victory in the 17-18 girls' 100 back, beating out Pacific's Lauren Damian (1:05.93) and Mexico's Andrea Salas Luna (1:08.35). Rockett completed the evening's individual events with a win in a tight 100 back field. He posted a 1:00.42 to defeat Soto Ramirez (1:00.68), who held off Pacific's Evan Carlo for third (1:00.91).

Canada completed the night with victory in three out of four 400 free relays in the 15 & over age groups. Truscott, Chekanovych, Tyra Rooney, and Doucette won the 15-16 girls' relay in 4:00.61; Darragh, Liu, Bray, and Salmon took the 15-16 boys' relay in 3:35.27; and Szalkai, Plant, Fyfe, and Sumner won the 17-18 girls' relay in 4:01.20. However, Mexico's squad of Marco Arredondo Gomez, Del Pino Salas, Torres Barraza, and Ramirez Carranza took the 17-18 boys' 400 free relay in 3:37.40 to break Canada's streak.

By the conclusion of the night, Canada had a convincing lead in team points, with 564.5. Their closest competition, going into the second and third days, is Southern California (489), while Pacific (422), Mexico (310.5), and Pacific Northwest (195) are all competing.

Swimming World high school intern David "The Swim Geek" Rieder is a high school swimmer in Charleston, S.C. He swims for the Southern Marlins Racing Team and often negative splits his races. He can be found on the web at swimdr549.blogspot.com and twitter.com/david2swim.

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