2016 Canadian Olympic Trials: Fastest Field Of Female Freestylers Ever


The 2016 Canadian Olympic Trials will feature one of the best fields of freestylers on the women’s side that the nation has ever seen. From the 50 to the 800 there are competitors who could potentially make Olympic finals and have competed well internationally in the past. Every freestyle event besides the 50 200 freestyles features somebody who has medalled internationally in that race.


  • Top Seed – Chantal Van Landeghem (24.39)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 25.28
  • Number of Canadian swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 4
  • Notable foreigners – Natalie Coughlin (USA)

Chantal Van Landeghem is the top seed in the women’s 50m freestyle with an entry time of 24.39. Van Landeghem swam that time at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia last summer, earning herself a fifth place finish in the final.

Considering her international success in the event and speed, she’s going to be tough to beat. Already this season she’s been under 25-seconds, dropping a 24.92 performance at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin.

Her closest competitor his her High Performance Centre – Ontario training partner Michelle Williams. Williams enters as the second seed with a time of 24.84.

Riki Bonneme from the Markham Aquatic Club is the third Canadian seed behind Van Landeghem and Williams and will likely be in the mix with a 25.08 seed time. She separates Van Landeghem and Williams from their teammate Sandrine Mainville who’s the fourth Canadian seed overall in 25.12.

While Van Landeghem won’t be able to race American superstar Natalie Coughlin in the finals, the two will get to see where their times line up. Coughlin earned bronze at last summers Pan American Games at this pool.

100 FREE

  • Top Seed – Chantal Van Landeghem (53.83)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 54.43
  • Number of Canadian swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 4
  • Notable foreigners – Natalie Coughlin (USA)

Just like in the 50m freestyle,  Chantal Van Landeghem is the top seed in the 100 with her Canadian record time of 53.83. Right behind her is her training partner Sandrine Mainville in 53.85.

Sporting an almost identical time behind both Van Landeghem and Mainville is 15-year-old rising star Taylor Ruck who trains out in Arizona. Ruck was a 53.92 at last year’s World Junior Championships to take home the gold securing the NAG record.

Michelle Williams is the fourth seed for the Canadians with a 54.21 just ahead of Penny Oleksiak, another young up-and-comer who finished second to Ruck in the 100 free finals at last year’s World Junior Championships.

This race is going to be a dogfight because the event will also determine the four who will represent Canada on the 4×100 free rleay. Without a doubt, the Canadian team has potential to medal in Rio so it should take some speed to finish top four.

Victoria Poon, Alyson Ackman, and Katerine Savard who have all represented Canada in their careers will also be fighting for a spot on the team.

Natalie Coughlin leads the charge internationally with a 53.85 seed from last year’s Pan American Games.

200 FREE

  • Top Seed – Emily Overholt  (1:57.55)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 1:58.96
  • Number of swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 3
  • Notable foreigners – Elizabeth Beisel (USA)

Emily Overholt, who finished third in the 400m IM at last year’s World Championships is the top seed int he women’s 200m freestyle with a 1:57.55 entry time. She’s going to have to hold off all advances from Taylor Ruck if she wants to win this one.

Ruck, at just 15-years-old, is the second seed in 1:57.87. Ruck has proven time and time again that she can bring the heat when she needs to, so she should be a great competitor for Overholt.

Katerine Savard, who is known more as a flyer than a freestyler, will be looking to finish in a top two position, or a least top four for a relay spot.

Throw Kennedy Goss, Alyson Ackman, Jacqueline Kiere, Penny Oleksiak, and Sydney Pickrem into the mix and this race for a top four spot will come down to the wire

Unlike the 50 and 100m freestyle where there are some clear leaders, behind Overholt and Ruck this field is wide open. A top four finish could mean a relay spot and an Olympic birth for any of the swimmers above.

400 FREE

  • Top Seed – Emily Overholt (4:07.93)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 4:09.08
  • Number of swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 1
  • Notable foreigners – Elizabeth Beisel (USA), Natalia Jaspeado (MEX/FINA)

Emily Overholt is the top seed in the 400m freestyle after winning the event at the Pan American Games last summer. She looks to be the heavy favourite in the event, however to get the win she’s going to need to take down Brittany MacLean.

MacLean wasn’t at her best last season due to an injury, but if her NCAA Championship victory in the 200 yard freestyle for Georgia isn’t evidence enough that she’s back in top shape, she’s been swimming fast all season long.

MacLean swam a 4:33.10 in the 500 free this season which ranks her as the third fastest in the event. The time converts roughly to a 4:03.74 in the long course 400m freestyle, and MacLean said that she wasn’t exactly too thrilled with the yards time.

Tabitha Baumann, Taylor Ruck, Danica Ludlow, and Olivia Anderson will try to make it tough for both Overholt and MacLean.

800 FREE

  • Top Seed – Brittany MacLean (8:32.06)
  • FINA ‘A’ time – 8:33.97
  • Number of swimmers with seeds under FINA ‘A’ time – 1
  • Notable foreigners – Natalia Jaspeado (MEX/FINA)

If MacLean is on form which she seems to be, she will be a dual threat at this meet. She’s the top seed in the 800m freestyle and with plenty of international success under her belt she looks to be the one to beat.

Tabitha Baumann and Olivia Anderson will both be fighting to either take down MacLean or get that second place finish. Baumann represented Canada in this event at last summer’s Pan American Games.

Taylor Ruck will be featured in this event as well, swimming every freestyle event on the docket other then the 50m freestyle

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5 years ago

Is Riki Bonnema originally Canadian? I know she swims for NC state but this is the first time i’ve seen her name come up on a Canadian nationals/trials meet

Reply to  Canswim13
5 years ago

Not “originally” but newly minted. She recently acquired Canadian citizenship…she posted a pic of the cert. on her instagram a couple months ago.

Eddie Rowe
Reply to  Canswim13
5 years ago

Can we get her last name spelled correctly in the article?

Is she actually training with Markham?

Darl Bonnema
Reply to  Canswim13
5 years ago

Riki Bonnema was born and raised in Orlando. She swam NCAA for NC State the last 4 years. Her mom is Canadian.

5 years ago

Don’t forget about Maclean in the 200. She had a great NCAA’s and will likely challenge for a top 2 spot.

Captain Ontario
Reply to  NickH
5 years ago

Maclean wins 200, 400 and 800. Ruck 2nd in the 200, Overholt 2nd in the 400. Goss steals a spot on the 4×200. Oleksiak finds her spot on the team in the fly. Chantal smashes the sprints.

Reply to  Captain Ontario
5 years ago

I’m curious, who do you think Oleksiak will knock off in the fly, Noemi or Katerine?

Captain Ontario
Reply to  marley09
5 years ago

I admit I’m out on the edge on that one. I think she beats Noemie.

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch worked for 5-years with SwimSwam news as a web producer focusing on both Canadian and international content. He coached for Toronto Swim Club for four seasons as a senior coach focusing on the development of young swimmers. Mitch is an NCCP level 2 certified coach in Canada and an ASCA Level …

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