Penny Oleksiak Turns in Solid Swims in Return to Pool at Mare Nostrum

Penny Oleksiak; Photo Courtesy: Michael P. Hall/Swimming Canada

Penny Oleksiak Turns in Solid Swims in Return to Pool at Mare Nostrum

Canadian Olympian Penny Oleksiak is back in the competition pool, taking part in the Barcelona stop of the Mare Nostrum tour. It’s her first meet in nine months due to a succession of injuries starting with a knee meniscus tear.

Oleksiak swam the women’s 50 butterfly and 100 freestyle in the morning session of what is officially the Trofeu Internacional Ciutat de Barcelona, the two-day stop in the week-long tour of the Mediterranean. Oleksiak finished 16th in both, going 27.35 in the 50 fly and 56.08 in the 100 free. The latter time was even with fellow Olympic vet Signe Bro of Denmark; Oleksiak was fifth among a sizeable contingent of Canadians in action at the meet. Oleksiak scratched out of the B final of both events.

Oleksiak is entered in the 50 free and 200 free on Thursday.

It’s been a long climb for Oleksiak, who dealt with a number of nagging injuries, including a recurrent back issue before the Tokyo Olympics. She tore the meniscus in her knee while training for a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro last fall. Her return to competition has been delayed a couple of times, including from January’s TYR Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville and Bell Canadian Trials in March.

“I’ve been recovering really quickly,” Oleksiak said in an interview with the Canadian outlet, Daily Hive. “We’ve kind of just been taking our time with it just because the Olympics are still over a year away. So I have a lot of time to prepare for it. But we just want to make sure that these injuries are going to recover fully and not come back.”

She was still selected to swim at the World Championships in Fukuoka this summer for Canada. Oleksiak is the most decorated Canadian Olympian in history, with seven Olympic medals, including gold in the women’s 100 free at the Rio Games. Amazingly, she still doesn’t turn 23 until next month.

Oleksiak remains a major player in Canada’s relay rosters. With the growth of Maggie MacNeil over 100 meters and Summer McIntosh over 200, both freestyle relays are likely medal contenders internationally, especially if Oleksiak returns to Olympic-final caliber.

The growth of McIntosh into a world-record holder in recent months is something Oleksiak has enjoyed watching.

“I love that there’s someone that fast in Canada, because it gives me someone that I can really strive to, like, push myself and see how fast I can get and in turn, it’s going to help her and she’s going to help me,” she said. “The faster we both get, we can just see how fast Canada can get, which is fun. She’s always ready to push the envelope but I think as much as we do compete against each other, I think that’s how we push each other.”

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