2016 CANADIAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: PENNY OLEKSIAK
2016 was a breakout year for Canada’s Penny Oleksiak. She had previously had success representing Canada internationally at the junior level, but she quickly broke onto the senior level scene at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It all started at the Canadian Olympic Trials, where Oleksiak, at just 15 years old, qualified to represent Canada in the 100 fly, 100 free, 4×100 free relay, 4×100 medleyr relay, and 4×200 free relay.
Shortly after turning 16, she started the meet as a part of Canada’s 4×100 free relay, anchoring the team to Olympic bronze. This was the first of many medals for Oleksiak, who left Rio with 4 new pieces of hardware. It wasn’t her last relay medal either, as she also took bronze as a part of Canada’s national record setting 4×200 free relay.
On night 2, she won her first individual Olympic medal, finishing 2nd in the 100 fly behind only World Record holder Sarah Sjostrom. Her time in the final also set a new Junior World Record. Her next inidividual medal was even more special, though, as she tied Team USA’s Simone Manuel for Olympic gold in another Junior World Record time.
Oleksiak’s gold was the first Olympic gold for Canada since Mark Tewksbury’s win in 1992, and it was the first gold for a Canadian female swimmer since Anne Ottenbrite won the 200 breast at the 1984 Olympics. At the conclusion of the meet, Oleksiak left Rio as the most decorated Canadian athlete at any summer Olympics.
HONORABLE MENTION: KYLIE MASSE
In the 1oo back final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Masse charged to a bronze medal in a tie with China’s Fu Yuanhui. In doing so, she set a new Canadian National Record. It didn’t stand for long, however, as she managed to break it again days later on the leadoff leg of Canada’s 4×100 medley relay. During the short course portion of 2016, Masse represented Canada at the Short Course World Championships in Windsor. There, she set new Canadian Records in both the 50 back and 100 back in the semifinal rounds, breaking her own previous record set in February 2016. In the 100 back, she went on to take 2nd place in the final. Masse was also a part of Canada’s 4×100 medley relay that set a new Canadian Record on the way to silver.