Swimming Canada Olympic Trials Takeaway – First Session Impressions

Photo Courtesy: Singapore Swimming Federation

Commentary by Rick Madge.

Every meet has its own rhythm and energy. And for Olympic Trials, it’s all about contained energy and tension.  Years have been dedicated to this moment, and months spent in restless anticipation.  And right with the whistle for that first heat, reality sets in. It’s all business.

But, wow, has it been fast.

Women’s 100 Fly

The women’s 100 Fly prelims were crazy fast. Three women made the Olympic Qualifying time in the heats, and all of them by more than a second.  With only 2 spots open, the finals tonight should be even crazier.

15-year old Penny Oleksiak of Toronto is the fastest qualifier with an amazing 57.38, more than a second lower than her PB (Personal Best) of 58.44.  Even more impressive was that she took it out in 26.85, which is almost a second faster than her previously fastest split of 27.77.  Second qualifier is Noemie Thomas of Richmond, B.C. with a 57.60, much better than her PB of 57.96. And she as well was out faster than ever before at 27.07. And third qualifier in this powerhouse event is Katerine Savard swimming out of CAMO in Montreal with a 57.72. The only one of the 3 not to do a PB in the heats. Savard holds the Canadian Record with a 57.27.

Whatever happens tonight, only 2 of the women can make the Olympic team. And most probably we’ll have at least one under the Canadian record.

Women’s 400 Free

Brittany MacLean!  Brittany MacLean swam her fastest time in 2 years (4:07.82) to claim first spot going into finals, and easily went under the Olympic Qualifying time of 4:09.08.  In fact, MacLean was 5 seconds faster than anything she did in 2015 or 2016. She swam a controlled race, staying just ahead of American Elizabeth Beisel the whole way. This is the Brittany that we all fell in love with in 2012, and then 2014. Maybe even numbered years are her specialty!

The big surprise in this event, though, was the withdrawal of Emily Overholt. Overholt was the fastest entry with 4:07.93, and the reigning Gold medallist in this event from last year’s PanAm Games.  It seems Overholt withdrew to focus on her 400 IM, an event she won a bronze medal in at last year’s World Championship in Kazan, Russia. Even more strange is that Overholt has already made the Olympic Team Nomination Criteria for the 400 IM based on her World Bronze.

Other points of interest:

The Men’s 200 Free may be one of Canada’s weakest events. Foreign swimmers are allowed into this meet, but cannot swim in the A final.  In most of the events so far, foreign swimmers occupy 2 or 3 of the top 10 times.  But in the Men’s 200 Free there were only two Canadians in the top 10 times. Jeremy Bagshaw swimming out of Island Swimming in Victoria, B.C. lead everyone with a 1:48.47, with Yuri Kisil of University of BC as the second Canadian at 1:49.45. That Olympic Qualifying time of 1:47.97 looks like a challenge.

Tristan Cote of ESWIM in Toronto showed great consistency to lead Canadians into 400 IM finals with 4:20.15.  But the big surprise was Robert Hill of CHENA swimming (British Columbia) who dropped 4 seconds off his previously best front end 200 to finish with a 5 second Personal Best of 4:21.48 and 2nd spot going into finals. Fastest seed Luke Reilly of Univ. of BC was in third spot at 4:23.18, well off his PB of 4:15.86.  With an Olympic Qualifying time of 4:16.71, this one should be an interesting final.

And lastly, in the Men’s 100 Breaststroke, it was no surprise that Richard Funk of Toronto leads the way with a 1:00.66.  Nor was it a real surprise that 2nd-seed Jason Block is going into finals in 2nd spot with a 1:00.87.  And both men have a solid shot at the Olympic Qualifying time of 1:00.57.

Finals tonight should be incredible.


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