Swimming World’s 2018 Newcomer of the Year: Taylor Ruck

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The gap year in between the Olympics is always an interesting year in the sport of swimming. There are no Olympics or World Championships at the long course level. It’s almost like the “regional” year in swimming with all the countries competing at different meets during the year. There were the Commonwealth Games in Australia, the European Championships in Great Britain, the Pan Pacs in Japan, and the Asian Games in Indonesia.

When picking a Newcomer of the Year, it was a bit difficult to choose since there wasn’t a world stage that everyone competed on. But Swimming World ultimately decided on Canada’s Taylor Ruck as the Newcomer of the Year for 2018.

Ruck, 18, has been a name on the rise ever since she won six medals at the 2015 World Junior Championships. In 2016, she suffered from bronchitis during the Olympic Trials and competed at the Olympics as a relay only swimmer for Canada. She won bronze medals in both free relays.

In 2017, she missed qualifying for World Championships, so she set her sights on the World Juniors again. There, she won seven medals.

In 2018, Taylor Ruck finally made her major breakthrough on the senior level, and not just in relays.

In April at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Ruck started the meet with a gold medal in the 200 free, swimming a 1:54.81 in the 200 free, taking down the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Games, and Canadian Records in the process, and becoming a star virtually overnight. Not bad for someone who was 20th in the world rankings in 2017 in that event.

Ruck continued that momentum by winning a silver in the 50 free, silver in the 200 back, bronze in the 100 free, and bronze in the 100 back. She left the Gold Coast with eight total medals, becoming the most decorated Canadian female athlete at a single Commonwealth Games.

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Photo Courtesy: Ian MacNicol

Four months later, Taylor Ruck flew to Tokyo, Japan, where she took on the best from the United States, Australia and Japan at the Pan Pacific Championships. Ruck picked up right where she left off as she started her meet with another gold in the 200 free.

This time she took down American superstar Katie Ledecky and lowered her best time to a 1:54.44, which stood as the fastest time in the world for 2018. It also moved her up to fifth all-time.

Ruck continued her Pan Pacs with a silver in the 200 back, finishing behind American Kathleen Baker. She also won bronze in the 100 free, behind former world record holder Cate Campbell and reigning Olympic Champion Simone Manuel. She swam a 52.72 in the 100 free, good for fifth in the world for 2018.

In the 200 back, her best time of the year was a 2:06.36, which put her fourth in the world. In the 100 back, she swam a 58.97 at Commonwealth Games to place her sixth in the world. And in the 50 free, she swam a 24.26 at the Commonwealth Games to put her eighth in the world.

To put that in perspective, Ruck was only ranked in the top eight in the world in one event in 2017, placing seventh in the 200 back. In 2018, she had five swims ranked in the top eight in the world.

Ruck is currently in her freshman year at Stanford, where she will be swimming for 2020 USA Head Olympic Coach, Greg Meehan. She will be training alongside some of the best swimmers in the world in Palo Alto with Ella Eastin and Katie Drabot on the team to push her, as well as postgrads Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel.

So if she can adjust well to her new life in Palo Alto, 2019 and beyond could be even better years for Taylor Ruck.

Previous Newcomers of the Year:

  • 2017: Li Bingjie, China; Kristof Milak, Hungary
  • 2016: Penny Oleksiak, Canada
  • 2014: Ning Zetao, China

8 comments

  1. Linda Hyslop

    Congratulations 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

  2. avatar
    Swim USA

    Frustrated that we have to read about non-American swimmers….wish they would stay in their country! Give our swimmers more opportunities.

    • avatar
      Datowa

      Foreign swimmers have been swimming at US schools for decades. Universities are not responsible for delivering opportunities to just Americans. Your comment is short sighted, Taylor grew up in the United States and did all her age group swimming there before deciding to represent Canada (arguably taking spots from Canadian kids who grew up hete) That being said, we are proud of her and are thankful that she swims for us… she deserves the scholarship that she has earned…so get over it.

    • avatar
      Kevin B

      The name of this site is SwimmingWORLDmagazine.com.

      WORLD

      Not SwimmingUSAmagazine.com

      Heaven forbid you have to read about a non-American swimmer on a site that covers the entire world of swimming. And by the way, while Taylor was born in Canada, she grew up in Scottsdale.

  3. avatar
    Swim USA

    Wish these swimmers would stay in own country – frustrated they come here and take scholarship money and opportunities from USA swimmers. No matter how fast they will never swim for us in olympics.

  4. avatar
    Montreal

    Hey, how did Taylor Ruck do at the recent Lausanne meet? Did she win any races there? Didn’t see any reports on that one.