Versatile Mary-Sophie Harvey Paying Dividends for Energy Standard

HARVEY Mary-Sophie ENS Energy Standard (ENS) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Mary-Sophie Harvey; Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Versatile Mary-Sophie Harvey Paying Dividends for Energy Standard

It didn’t take long for the coaches of Energy Standard to trust Mary-Sophie Harvey.

Then 20 years old, the Canadian wasn’t the highest profile founding member of Energy Standard in 2019 for the inaugural season of the International Swimming League. As someone whose preferred events then were “the tough ones” – 200 butterfly, 400 individual medley – she wasn’t exactly in the wheelhouse of the ISL program.

But in that first season, the Quebec native managed to wear down coaches James Gibson and Tom Rushton.

“The first season, I was always like, ‘I’m sure I can do a good 100 free. I really want to do a relay,’” Harvey told Swimming World recently. “And I didn’t get to. And the second season, they were like, ‘OK, you’re going to do a relay.’ And I think I surprised them and surprised myself also, so I ended up doing most of the relays last season.”

HARVEY Mary-Sophie ENS Energy Standard (ENS) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 2 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Energy Standard’s Mary-Sophie Harvey; Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

So when the 22-year-old reported to Naples for ISL Season 3 and told the Energy staff that she felt ready to change things up over shorter distances, their faith in Harvey was built up. And she has delivered.

Energy Standard is chasing its second title in three years. And while the headliners remain all-purpose speedsters like Sarah Sjostrom and Siobhan Haughey, Harvey has been an under-the-radar contributor across the board.

Harvey has two wins this season, in the 100 IM and 200 IM. But she is tied for second in ISL with top-10 times in five different events, trailing only the Cali Condors’ Beata Nelson. (Haughey and Sjostrom, the latter of whom swam only three prelims meets, are in the top 10 in four events.) Harvey ranks in the top 10 in the 200 back, 200 IM, 50 back, 100 back and 100 IM. She’s even contributed twice in skins races.

Much of that stems from Harvey’s work to reinvent herself. She has remarkable range, having swum the 200 free, 400 free and 400 IM at the 2017 World Championships. At the 2019 Pan Am Games, she won silver in the 200 fly and 800 free relay, bronze in the 400 IM and silver in the 400 medley relay for a prelims breaststroke leg. She was part of Canada’s Olympic squad in Tokyo on the 800 free relay.

ISL seems like an ideal place to experiment, especially when it’s for a loaded team and a coaching staff that believes in you.

“I tried to not put too much pressure coming into ISL because I didn’t know where I was at,” Harvey said. “I feel like it was a similar case for most swimmers that were in Tokyo, because we took our time off and were like, oh it’s going to be a nice beginning to the season. I think the main key was, don’t put any pressure on myself, and it worked out pretty well. Every time I was touching the wall, I was like, ‘oh this is fun,’ and I was surprising myself.”

The quick turnarounds of ISL matches seem to suit her. So does the short-course format, though she’s not as sure why that is.

“I like to mix things up, so at almost every match, I had a new event or a different one that I didn’t do before,” Harvey said. “I was really excited, and I feel like they have a lot of confidence in me to try different stuff. And the good thing about myself is I can recover pretty quickly from race to race, so if someone is tired and they want to rest someone, I’m always up and ready to go.”

HARVEY Mary-Sophie ENS Energy Standard (ENS) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Mary-Sophie Harvey; Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Harvey’s stature in ISL is yet another front in which Canadian women’s swimming is surging. Though she wasn’t one of the headliners at the Olympics, some of her Tokyo teammates are behind her in the ISL standings.

The profusion of Canadian talent has infiltrated the entire league. While the Toronto Titans are flush with Olympians like Kylie Masse, Summer McIntosh and Kayla Sanchez, almost ever team seems to boast a Canadian. Bailey Andison has the top time in the 400 IM with DC Trident. Sydney Pickrem is a cornerstone for the London Roar. Katerine Savard has been a good pickup for Cali. Ingrid Wilm has been one of the surprises of the season for LA Current.

“It’s kind of funny always in the ready room, I’ll look around and more than half of us are Canadians, which is crazy,” Harvey said. “It’s like, ‘oh hi, long time no see.’ But I think it’s super great to see that and to have more Canadian women on the ISL stage doing so well right now. It started in Rio and every year we kept the momentum going, and I think we’re going to keep on going. It’s nice to see and it’s nice to contribute to this success.”

For the cautious expectations she took into the season, Harvey is looking forward to getting back at it for the semifinals. She admits being tired by the end of the four-match prelims slate, and she was eager to return home to restart training with a new coach at Club Aquatique de Montreal (CAMO), where she and Savard weathered the pandemic-related training disruptions.

But with time away, she’s eager to get back with her Energy Standard mates in Eindhoven.

“As soon as I left, I was like, ‘oh I miss it,’” Harvey said. “It’s so much fun. You just enjoy swimming so much, and I think it’s really good for the beginning of the season to put us into shape really quickly and enjoy swimming.”

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