Santo Condorelli Steps Into Brent Hayden’s Vacancy

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Santo Condorelli of Canada poses with his silver medal after the men's 100m freestyle swimming final 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

By Nathan Sager (@naitSAYger)

Santo Condorelli, the fourth-place finisher in men’s 100-metre freestyle at the 2015 world championships, was the little big man leading the way at the Canadian Olympic & Para-swimming Trials on Friday.

When Brent Hayden retired after earning the Olympic bronze in 100 free at London in 2012, many speculated about how long it would take for Canada to find a successor. Since Condorelli opted to swim for Canada, the relatively undersized USC Trojan standout has warmed to the role.

Friday, the 21-year-old won in 48.16 seconds while 6-foot-6 Yuri Kisil, who is coached by Tom Johnson, Hayden’s coach, also made the mark in 48.58. Markus Thormeyer (49.38) and Evan Van Moerkerke (49.75) rounded out the first four to get on the 4 x 100 relay team.

“I have a lot to work on for Rio, that’s for sure,” Condorelli, who at 6-foot-1 is four inches shorter than any other relay nominee, told CBC Sports in a pool deck interview. “I don’t have much to complain about, I made the team.”

With two days left in the Trials, Canada has five men on the Olympic team for individual events. On the women’s side, 32-year-old veteran Audrey Lacroix qualified for her third Olympics and became the sole Canadian representative in women’s 200 butterfly.

Texas A&M Aggies sophomore Sydney Pickrem completed her Trials IM double, capturing women’s 200-m individual medley in 2.11.81, while University of British Columbia’s Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson clocked 2.12.47 to also make the mark. Canada did not have a semifinalist in 200 IM four years ago in London.

The 18-year-old Pickrem made up time on the freestyle leg. The dual Canadian-U.S. citizen won the 400 IM on Wednesday.

“It’s just about getting under the cut and getting top two to get another swim at the Olympics,” Pickrem said.

Seltenreich-Hodgson’s progress stalled during the 2015 season. However, she was able to deliver and get the spot ahead of fellow CIS standout Kylie Masse, who was third also made the FINA mark.

“I have been dreaming about this since I was 10,” said Seltenreich-Hodgson, who the fact that last year I didn’t have a great year but did what I needed to do and got on the team makes it all the more special.”

Since turning 30, Lacroix has won gold in 200 fly at the Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. Friday, she pulled away from Katerine Savard and Sophie Marois, Canadian Interuniversity Sport champion, over the final 50 metres. Savard, who will be part of the Olympic women’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay, did not make the mark at 2:10.82.

“It was amazing – it was such a big thing for me to swim tonight and make it to a third Olympics,” said Lacroix, who didn’t make an Olympic team until her third Trials, when she ws already a veteran at age 24. “I never thought I would be here, be swimming at age 32. It’s almost like a bonus Olympics.”

Saturday’s final to watch will likely be women’s 200 breaststroke, where Minnesota Golden Gophers senior Kierra Smith and Olympic veteran Martha McCabe are 1-2 in seed times. That was also their order of finish nine months ago at the Pan Ams in Toronto.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Bill.

    Santo Dosent swim for USC.