2016 Canadian Olympic Trials: Caldwell, Masse Look To Lead Backstroke


The women’s backstroke scene arguably displays the most overall depth in Canadian swimming. In both events there are at least two athletes entering with seeds under the FINA ‘A’ time meaning it’s likely Canada will be able to send two athletes in each stroke discipline. With young talent mixing with more seasoned swimmers, the backstroke races will be some of the fastest races at trials.

100 BACK

  • Top Seed – Kylie Masse (59.81)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 1:00.25
  • Number of Canadian swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 2
  • Notable foreigners – Natalie Coughlin (USA)

Kylie Masse has been absolutely unbelievable all season in the backstroke events. She’s taken down several Canadian national records including the long course 50m backstroke mark at the CIS Championships this past February. Masse swam a 27.84 there to win the event.

In the 100, Masse has been a 59.91 this year which ties her for eighth in the world behind American superstars Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin.

While Masse won’t get the chance to race Coughlin in the finals, she will be able to compare times with Coughlin as she’ll be competing in the prelims and likely the consolation final of the event since she’s a foreign athlete.

As far as Canadians go Masse isn’t the only standout in the backstroke events; backstroke displays some of the greatest depth in Canadian swimming.

Masse will be up against Dominique Bouchard whose best event is the 200 back, but she’s still a huge threat in the 100. Bouchard boasts a 1:00.20 seed time. Hilary Caldwell who has been a staple on the Canadian team since her breakout in 2013 will also be fighting both Masse and Bouchard for the top spot.

Danielle Hanus, Taylor Ruck, and Brooklynn Snodgrass are seeded fourth through sixth respectively and could all overthrow the order. Hanus has shown plenty of success as an age group swimmer and will be looking to make the transition to the senior national team. Snodgrass’ NCAA career has proved to be quiet successful as well and she has plenty of speed to bring to the final.

Taylor Ruck is the wild card in this event. Although she has yet to throw down a sub one-minute 100 back, Ruck could without a doubt be in the running to win the whole thing. As a rising star posting unbelievable times for her age in both backstroke and freestyle, she’ll be one to look for.

200 BACK

  • Top Seed – Hilary Caldwell (2:08.22)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 2:10.60
  • Number of Canadian swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 6
  • Notable foreigners – Elizabeth Beisel (USA)

Kylie Masse might be the top seed in the 100 back but she’ll have four Canadians to get past if she wants to try and lead the way in the 200 as well.

Hilary Caldwell is the top seed and the heavy favourite to win the race. Caldwell emerged onto the global scene in this event in 2013 when she won the bronze at the World Championships in Barcelona. Five years later and she’s collected both a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in this event.

Caldwell’s international success speaks for itself, however with six athletes seeded under the FINA ‘A’ cut she’s going to have her work cut out for her if she wants to top one of the toughest fields in Canadian swimming.

Dominique Bouchard is the second seed overall; she finished second to Caldwell at the 2015 Pan American Games in this event.

Genevieve Cantin has had a very impressive CIS career, however she as well will be looking to make the transition into making a national team. Cantin enters the meet with a 2:09.40 seed.

Taylor Ruck once again comes in as the wild card. She’s been fast in this event, but due to her lack of experience at an Olympic Trials it’s tough to anticipate how she’ll perform. Ruck has the talent, and has shown throughout the last year that she’s ready to race every time she steps up to the blocks.

Seventeen-year-old Meryn McCann of Etobicoke is another young athlete who has been performing well on a junior stage; and as the sixth Canadian seed she’s in a position to fight for a spot on the team.

Fifth seed overall, Elizabeth Beisel, will also be competing in this event.

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Bouchard was a 59.80 leading off the medley relay in Kazan

Spectator Sport

Hilary Caldwell won her bronze medal at the 2013 world champs

Long lost Canadian

I don’t know if I would say Caldwell is the heavy favourite in the 200 back. Dom Bouchard was the 4th qualifier (2:08.16) and 6th place finisher in that same world championship final last year, plus went a 59.80 in her 100 on their medley relay. Caldwell was definitely much faster at one time but, right now I think its pretty close between she and Bouchard. Maybe even with an edge to Bouchard after her pro swim series performances

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile is a former Canadian age group swimmer who was forced to end his career early due to a labrum tear in his hip and a torn rotator cuff after being recognized as one of the top 50 breaststrokers his age in Canada. He competed successfully at both age …

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