International medalists to lead Canadian World Championship swim team

Kylie Masse broke the Canadian 200m backstroke record at the Canadian trials last weekend. (Photo by Paul Chiasson/CP.)

Some of the fastest swimming this country has ever seen took place during the Canadian swimming trials this past weekend. The meet sees the fastest swimmers across Canada vie for positions on this summer’s international teams, including changes to wear the maple leaf at the 2019 FINA World Championships, 2019 FINA World Junior Championships, 2019 Pan American Games, 2019 Para Pan American Games, 2019 World Para Swimming Championships and the 2019 FISU Games.

The swimmers that touched first or second in an event, provided they were under the FINA A standard, automatically earned a spot to this year’s World Championships. If they did not reach the FINA A, they may make the team as part of a relay, or have a chance at the other teams listed above.

Many of the dynamite swims in the pool came from Canadians that had just wrapped up collegiate swimming duties at their respective NCAA championships. They had the tricky task of tapering down for their college championship, swam in short course yards, and sustaining their racing speed until these trials, which are swam long course meters. The two racing formats are very different, with long course meters typically requiring a larger aerobic base.

Three Canadian records were taken down during the competition. Syndney Pickrem broke her own record in the 200 meter backstroke, touching in 2:08.71 and break 2:09 for the first time. Kylie Masse, the former world record holder in the 100m backstroke, lowed her own record in the 200m backstroke to finish in 2:05.94 and clocked the fastest time in the world so far this year.

With an attitude that echoed the 2018 Olympics, where the Canadian women won six medals, that depth and speed of the ladies in the pool was unquestionable. While the top-finishing men struggled to hit the FINA A standard that is necessary to qualify for World Championships, in some events there were six women touching under their qualifying cuts. There were only two events the first place woman was not under the FINA A standard. The FINA A standards are set by the world swimming organization each year for international events and are based on the world records in each event.

The weekend was not without drama. Penny Oleksiak, the Canadian superstar that won two golds at the 2018 Olympics has been struggling since then to make an impact on the international stage. She finished second in the 100 free and earned a spot to World Championships, but failed to qualify in 100 fly, touching third. However, she came together in a big way the next night in the 200 freestyle, winning an event that was considered outside of her sprinting specialties.

Kierra Smith also showed tremendous mental tenacity when she was disqualified in her best event, the 200m breaststroke. The official disciplined her for her elbows breaking the surface of the water during her stroke, a technical flaw that has seen her disqualified in the past. However, she went on to win the 100 breaststroke, touching a full second ahead of the rest of the field.

Kylie Masse was on fire in her backstroke events. Including her Canadian record in the 200 backstroke, her time of 58.16 in the 100 backstroke was the fourth fastest swim of all-time in the event. She now has six of the ten fastest swims in history.

Emily Overholt, who has recently talked publicly about her struggles with depression after the Rio Olympics, let her inner strength shine as physical strength. She went the fastest she had been since those Olympics in the 400 IM, touching second and earning a spot on the World Championship team.

For the first time women were able to qualify for the 1500m freestyle, and men were able to qualify to swim in the 800m freestyle. These two events have been added for the first time in the 2020 Olympics. Mackenzie Padington won the 1500m freestyle at the trials, nearly eight seconds under the FINA A standard, and will compete in the World Championships.

For full results, click HERE.

At the end of the competition, 25 swimmers were selected onto the World Championship team. The women who have been named to the team are listed below. For the full team, click HERE.

Other teams, such as the World Juniors, and FISU teams, will be announced in the upcoming months.

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