Five Storylines to Follow for the 2018 Canadian Trials

Photo Courtesy: Ian MacNicol

By Brian Palaschuk, Swimming World College Intern

Canadian Swimming Trials begin this Wednesday, July 18, at the Kinsmen Sports Center in Edmonton, Alberta. This meet serves as a qualifier for the Canadian Pan Pacific Championship team as well as the Para Pan Pacific Championships.


The selection criteria for the Canadian Pan Pac team are as follows:

  • Priority 1: The winner of each individual event will be selected.
  • Priority 2: The top four finishers in 100 and 200 freestyle will be selected.
  • Priority 3: Assuming they make the FINA A time standard, second place finishers will be selected in order of their world ranking.
  • Priority 4: Third place finishers will be added in the same fashion if the team has not yet reached 32 swimmers and there are still qualifiers.
  • Priority 5: Swimming Canada’s high performance director John Atkinson may select additional swimmers at his discretion.

The full selection document, including the FINA time standards, can be viewed here.


Photo Courtesy: Ian MacNicol

1. Kylie Masse and Co. Aiming High in Women’s Backstroke

After breaking onto the world swimming scene with her bronze medal in Rio, Kylie Masse has been unstoppable. In 2017 and 2018, Masse has broken the 59-second barrier in 100 backstroke 13 times, including her world record of 58.10. During this time, she won both the World and Commonwealth Championships and will now look to add a Pan Pac championship in Tokyo.

Following Masse in the 100 are fellow sub-minute swimmers Alexia Zevnik and World Junior bronze medalist Jade Hannah. Masse also leads the field in the 200 backstroke with her swift 2:05.97. The spot behind her, however, is wide open. With eight swimmers sitting between 2:10 and 2:12, the race for the second spot should be exciting.


Photo Courtesy: Swimming Canada

2. Quickly Rising Juniors

Canada’s Junior team has been on the rise the last few years, and there are a few teens on the cusp of a big senior breakout. On the men’s side, keep an eye out for both Sebastian Somerset and Gabe Mastromatteo. Seventeen-year-old Somerset had a strong meet at Canadian nationals in April, where he won the 200 backstroke in 2:00.12. That time puts him second heading into trials behind only Markus Thormeyer. He has over a second to lop off to get the qualifying time of 1:58.68, but with his quick improvement, it is not out of reach.

Mastromatteo is in a similar position as Somerset. The 16-year-old World Junior champion is seeded second in the 100 breast behind Budapest semi-finalist Richard Funk. His best time of 1:01.33 is a bit off of the 1:00.35 qualifying time, but he should have a good shot at it on Wednesday.

On the women’s side, look out for Canadian Commonwealth Games and HPC Victoria teammates Jade Hannah and Faith Knelson. Knelson and Hannah are both seeded third in their respective 100s. It won’t be easy for either of them to make the team, however. Knelson has to deal with 2016 Olympians Rachel Nicol and Kierra Smith, while Hannah is up against national team members Kylie Masse and Alexia Zevnik. Despite this tough competition, expect these two 16-year-olds to push their more established competitors to the limit in Edmonton.

Jul 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Yuri Kisil of Canada competes in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay preliminary heat during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

3. Canadian Men’s Swimming Heating Up

Men’s swimming in Canada has been in a bit of a slump since the retirements of Olympic medalists Brent Hayden and Ryan Cochrane. However, there are a few men who were on the verge of breaking into the top eight at the 2017 World Championships.

One of these men is Javier Acevedo. Acevedo made it through to semi-finals in Budapest, and if he can improve on his best time of 53.6, he will be close to medal contention in Tokyo. Another Canadian man who just missed out on a final in Budapest is Rio Semi-Finalist Yuri Kisil. Kisil’s 100 free personal best of 48.28 is right on the edge of international medal contention. If he can push into the 47-second range, he will certainly be a threat come Tokyo.

Also, look out for Commonwealth Games team members Markus Thormeyer and Mack Darragh. Thormeyer has been on the national team since 2015 and had a breakout meet in Queensland, winning bronze in the 100 backstroke and finishing fifth in the 200. Thormeyer has a bit more time to drop to contend for medals in Tokyo, but watch out for him in the freestyle and backstroke events in Edmonton.

Darragh comes into Pan Pac Trials with a slightly different story. He missed the 2017 World Championships but went on to break the Canadian record the same summer with a 1:56.87. If he can lower that record, he will challenge the final at Pan Pacs.


Photo Courtesy: Ian MacNicol

4. Taylor Ruck Continues her 2018 Blitz

Canada’s Taylor Ruck has been tearing up the world rankings in 2018. First, Ruck lit up the pro swim series, crushing her backstroke best times in Atlanta with a 59.13 in the 100 and a scorching 2:06.36 in the 200. Ruck carried that momentum into the Commonwealth Games where she won eight medals, including a commonwealth record-setting 1:54.81 200 freestyle. At only 18 years old, the sky is the limit for this HPC Ontario phenom. Although she will only be contesting the freestyle events at Canadian Trials, look out for some fast swimming from Ruck.


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

5. The Women’s IM Showdown

Canada’s depth in the IM is excellent, and despite the lack of 2017 World Championship team member Mary Sophie-Harvey, it will be a battle to make the team. In the 200 IM, the field is led by Sydney Pickrem. However, at the 2017 Budapest World Championships, Pickrem did not finish her 200 IM final after qualifying in third. Her best time of 2:09.17 stands from that semi-final, and she will be looking to improve on that in Edmonton.

Pickrem is followed by Commonwealth silver and bronze medalists Sarah Darcel and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson. With only two spots guaranteed, it will be a battle to make the team. The story is the same in the 400 IM, where Pickrem leads with a 4:32.88, followed by Hodgson and Darcel.

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