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2018 CANADIAN FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: TAYLOR RUCK
Taylor Ruck has been in and out of the spotlight the last few years, showing flashes of brilliance followed by puzzlingly flat swims. Alas, ups and downs are the very essence of a budding star, and 2018 was a resounding year for the 18-year-old.
From 2017, where Ruck did not swim well at the Canadian Trials and missed Worlds, only to have a great week at World Juniors, Ruck made herself known in 2018. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a meet of vast importance for Commonwealth countries, Ruck was better than the rest in a gold medal and Commonwealth record performance in the 200 free (1:54.81), while also winning five silvers and two bronzes to make her the most decorated female Canadian athlete ever at a Commonwealth games and tying Emily Seebohm, Susie O’Neill, and Ralph Hutton for the most medals at a single Commonwealth Games (eight).
Ruck elevated her game late into the summer with perhaps her most impressive feat to date: taking down a 200 free Pan Pacs field that included the great Katie Ledecky, the Olympic record holder Allison Schmitt, and a fellow rising star in Japan’s Rikako Ikee. Ruck swam to a 1:54.44, leading from wire to wire, to break the meet record and her own Commonwealth and Canadian records. Additionally, Ruck won a silver medal in the 200 back (2:06.41), a bronze in the 100 free (52.72), both just off of Canadian records, and placed 4th in the 50 free. On relays, Ruck helped Canada to bronze in the 4×100 and 4×200 free relays, and despite them placing 4th in the 4×100 medley relay, Ruck unloaded a 51.72 anchor split.
As Tokyo 2020 draws closer, Ruck has emerged at the forefront of a Canadian wave that will look to shock at the Olympics and re-arrange the swimming world order.
In no particular order
Kylie Masse: Masse, the former 100 back world record holder and the first woman to take down Gemma Spofforth’s super suited WR from 2009, took golds in the 100 and 200 back in meet record fashion at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She also defeated two of the best backstrokers in history, Emily Seebohm and Kathleen Baker, in her gold medal swim in the 100 back at the 2018 Pan Pacs.
- Kayla Sanchez: Sanchez was on two silver medal relays at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and is proving to be a vital relay swimmer in Canada‘s growing presence on the world stage, swimming on two more silver medal relays for Team Canada at Pan Pacs. Perhaps she’s reaching the level of individual player, recently having smashed Canadian records in SCM in the 100 free (51.45), 100 IM (58.24), and 200 IM (2:04.64). The 100 free and 200 IM registered new World Junior records, while the 100 free is better than any North American, ever, and her 200 IM is the quickest swim done by a swimmer for a Commonwealth nation.