Kayla Sanchez, the 17-year old from Ontario, is on fire. This week at the Swimming England Winter Championships in Sheffield, Sanchez broke three Canadian Senior Short Course records.
On her way to winning the event, Sanchez clocked a 51.45 in the 100m freestyle, beating Great Britain’s Anna Hopkin and Canadian Penny Oleksiak, who held the previous Canadian record of 52.01. Sanchez is now the first Canadian to race under 50 seconds in the 100m.
She then took two seconds off of Erica Morningstar’s 2011 Canadian record in the 200m IM. Her time of 2:04.64 is also a new World Junior record. These two performances put her in the top ten times in the history of the events. At the last day of the meet, Sanchez broke the 100m IM record, finishing in 58.24. The 100m IM is not an Olympic event.
Earlier in the month, Kayla Sanchez became the first swimmer under 18 years old to break 24 seconds in the short course 50m freestyle in the prelims of the North York Aquatic Club (NYAC) Cup held in Toronto. She swam a 23.94, smashing through the record of 24.00 seconds held by China’s Menghui Zhu. The performance came at an early season meet, while most swimmers in Canada are deep in winter training and under heavy fatigue. Her swim ranks her sixth fastest in the world this year.
In the same meet, Sanchez came within 0.35 of the World Junior record in the 200m freestyle, winning in a time of 1:52.85. The current record o 1:52.50 is held by another Canadian youngster, Taylor Ruck.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised at this young phenom’s ability to lay down speed. Sanchez is part of the Ontario High Performance Group coached by Ben Titley that swims out of Toronto and counts sprint freestyler Penny Oleksiak and breastroker Kierra Smith. She has had a couple breakout international meets this year. She earned two bronze medals at the Pan Pacific Championships in the 4×100 and 4x200m freestyle relay, and two silver medals at the Commonwealth games in the same events.
The next step for this young woman will be to mirror these events in the long course meters. This will ultimately prove if she will make an impact in less than two years at the Tokyo Olympics.