5 Major Takeaways On the State of Canadian Swimming

Jul 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ryan Cochrane of Canada adjusts his gold medal as he stands on the podium after the men's 400m freestyle final the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

By Matt Grillo, Swimming World College Intern

It was a busy summer for Canada’s national team as they played host to the 2015 Pan American Games. Less than a month later, Canada was competing at the World Championships. Fast swimming and gold medals were expected at the Pan Am Games and Canada delivered. Yet the true challenge for the summer would be following up those performances at the World Championships when home crowd advantage was gone and there was no room for mistakes.

Here are five major takeaways from a rapidly improving Canadian national team:

1. Canada is freestyling their way to international success.

It starts and ends with the veteran Ryan Cochrane. He started the meet off for team Canada with a bronze in the 400 free. Although the swim wasn’t a best time, the bronze was a first for Cochrane in the 400 free at a World Championships. On the final night, Cochrane was third in the 1500. Although again off his best time, Cochrane has remained a major threat in this event since 2008.

In between there, Santo Condorelli a newcomer to the national team, was fourth in the 100 free. He was also a huge part of the men’s 4×100 free relay which finished eighth at World Championships. The Canadian men beat out the usual powerhouses USA and Australia for a spot in the final. Canada had not been in a major championship final (World or Olympic) in that event since Beijing in 2008.

Condorelli’s major success this summer, which saw him at one point being tied for first in the world in the 100 free at 47.98, helps bolster team Canada all around, but specifically in the relays as he can swim a swift butterfly leg as well. Not to be outdown by the men, Chantal Van Landeghem made major strides this summer. She won gold in the 100 free at Pan Am games and was fifth in the 50 free at the World Championships. Van Landeghem played an important role in the 4×100 free relay, which saw the Canadian women finish fifth.

2. The Canadian women have serious depth in backstroke.

Jul 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Hilary Caldwell and Dominique Bouchard of Canada on the medal stand for the women’s 200m backstroke final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

Hilary Caldwell and Dominique Bouchard both made the final in the 200 back at the World Championships. With Bouchard placing sixth and Caldwell taking seventh, the Canadian women are deep in the 200 backstroke. Yet it doesn’t stop there for the backstroke depth in Canada.

This summer the depth of Canadian women’s backstroke was put on display as Kylie Masse won gold in the 100 back at the World University Games in 59.97 and also swam a sub-2:10 200 back at the Canadian Swimming Championships. There are other backstrokers who will look to make a push for next summer’s Olympic team. Brooklyn Snodgrass is one backstroker worth noting. Snodgrass had a stellar summer 2014 where she broke the Canadian record in the 50 backstroke. All these names and more will be in the mix when it comes time for the spots to be filled for Rio.

3. It’s been a long time coming.

Canada saw medals and finals in events that have been weak for Team Canada for a long time. It starts with Emily Overholt‘s bronze in the 400 I.M. which broke the Canadian record by three seconds. Overholt’s performance in the 400 I.M. along with Sydney Pickrem‘s sixth place finish at Worlds in the 200 I.M. shows that the Canadian women are well entrenched in the world rankings in both of these events. Both Overholt and Pickrem have dropped seconds off their best times and the Canadian records, which sets them up well heading into the Olympic year.

4. Veterans poised to make a run.

Jul 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Richard Funk of Canada celebrates winning the silver medal in the men’s 200m breaststroke final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

There are many young veterans on the Canadian national team. Katerine Savard, 22, was fourth at Worlds and has been on the senior international scene since 2010. Richard Funk, 22, has been on the national team since 2013 and is inching ever so close to a sub-1:00 100 breast. Funk put up world-class times this summer and broke through with a semifinal performance in the 100 breast. Overholt has made a major impact on the Canadian team since making her first senior national team in 2014. At 17 years old, Overholt looked like a veteran with her versatility and she now has the hardware to be a leader for the Canadian team rolling in Rio.

5. The success of the high performance training centres was put on display.

Some of the highest performing athletes are training at the high performance centres. There are some exceptions such as Condorelli; however, swimmers such as Cochrane, Overholt and Van Landeghem (who began training in Toronto after finishing her academic year at Georgia) are all training at Canada’s high performance centres during the lead-up to Rio.  The standards for success put in place by high performance director John Atkinson are very high. The high performance centres have based their goals off of these high expectations and the selection criteria for the national team is largely based off of world rankings rather than FINA A and B time standards.


  1. avatar

    I think we’re going to see a lot of Canadians make it to the finals in Rio! This Team is really moving up in the world!

  2. Jeremy Cooper

    Great job John Atkinson ! Well done my friend

  3. avatar

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