2023 CANADIAN SWIMMING TRIALS
- March 28 – April 2, 2023
- Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre
- Long Course Meters
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheets
The 2023 Canadian Swimming Trials will commence on March 28, 2023, in Toronto, Ontario. As we prepare for the meet, we’ll be highlighting a few of the biggest storylines to look out for as many of Canada’s top swimmers compete for spots on the 2023 World Championships squad.
To start off, let’s take a look at one of the most exciting under-development fields in Canada right now: men’s sprint freestyle.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Canadian men got the closest to the podium in the 4×100 freestyle that they have in many years. Several factors came together to make that swim happen: the return of Brent Hayden, the breakout of Josh Liendo, and the reliably fast splits of Yuri Kisil and Markus Thormeyer. While a podium finish would have been nice, a 4th place finish was considered a win for the Canadian men.
They were only 0.60 seconds slower than Australia’s bronze medal time of 3:10.22 and within less than a second of Italy’s 3:10.11 for silver. The 2021 performance by Canada was its best placement in the event in history and was the fastest time the nation has posted across the 2016 and 2021 Olympics and the 2017, and 2022 World Championships.
|2016 Olympics Final||2017 World Championships Final||2019 World Championships Prelim||2021 Olympics Final||2022 World Championships Final|
|1||Santo Condorelli (48.51)||Yuri Kisil (48.66)||Markus Thormeyer (48.80)||Brent Hayden (47.99)||Josh Liendo (47.87)|
|2||Yuri Kisil (47.76)||Markus Thormeyer (48.51)||Yuri Kisil (48.32)||Josh Liendo (47.51)||Ruslan Gaziev (48.02)|
|3||Markus Thormeyer (48.40)||Javier Acevedo (49.03)||Will Pisani (49.21)||Yuri Kisil (47.15)||Javier Acevedo (47.97)|
|4||Evan van Moerkerke (49.68)||Carson Olafson (49.05)||Carson Olafson (48.73)||Markus Thormeyer (48.17)||Yuri Kisil (48.13)|
The 4×100 freestyle performance in Tokyo remains Canada’s national record in the event and one year later at the 2022 World Championships, the team swam a 3:11.99 for 6th place. In the year between those two swims, Brent Hayden retired again and wouldn’t return to provide a flat-started-47.99 and Markus Thormeyer was banned from the sport for a year for an anti-doping violation.
That left Canada without two of its four relay members from Tokyo. Now, in 2023, Yuri Kisil is absent from the psych sheets for Trials, indicating that he likely is not vying for a spot on the team this summer. With Hayden retired, Thormeyer not yet back in the racing pool yet, and Kisil absent from Trials, it might seem like Canada isn’t likely to regain that 2021 speed. One could argue, however, that depending on who qualifies for this event at Trials, Canada has a shot at lowering their national record once again and could be fighting for a spot on the podium.
The leader in this event for Canada is Josh Liendo. Liendo was there in 2021 and took over the leadoff position in 2022, improving upon Hayden’s 47.99 with a 47.87. Liendo also picked up two individual bronze medals in Budapest last year and just wrapped up a successful freshman season at the University of Florida. It’s likely that Liendo will qualify to race this event in Fukuoka and that he will be a solid relay split for the Canadians.
With Liendo in a good spot for Canada, the question is: who are the other three men going to be? We can start by looking at the two other men who raced the event for Canada in 2022. Ruslan Gaziev and Javier Acevedo were added in 2022 in Hayden and Thormeyerer’s absence.
Acevedo is not a newcomer to the Canadian national team and has raced at many World Championships before. He actually swam on the 4×100 freestyle relay in 2017 for Canada, splitting a 49.03 to contribute to a 6th-place finish. In 2022, however, Acevedo showed up in a big way for Canada and got his split under 48 seconds with his 47.97. Acevedo has been racing well in-season so far in 2022-2023 and enters the 100 freestyle as the third seed at Trials. If he swims the relay again and brings what he brought last year, that’s a second 47 for Canada’s team.
If there’s going to be a 3rd 47 split on Canada’s 4×100 freestyle relay, it will probably come from Ruslan Gaziev. Gaziev posted a 48.02 on the second leg of Canada’s 4×100 free in 2022, but that wasn’t his fastest split of the summer. A few weeks later at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Gaziev provided the mixed medley relay with an anchor leg of 47.80. He also hit a 48.13 on the men’s 4×100 freestyle. Gaziev raced alongside Liendo in the 100 freestyle at NCAAs this year, placing fourth with a best time of 40.98 to become one of the few men in history to crack 41 seconds. If he keeps it up and is able to match his Commonwealth Games speed, Canada could add another 47 splitter to their roster.
Liendo, Acevedo, and Gaziev look like solid bets for the top three in the 100 freestyle at Canadian Trials. If they all qualify, Canada’s 4×100 free relay is 75% of the way there. The question is whether they can lock down a fourth man to provide an elite 100 freestyle split on the relay. If Canada splits 47 on all four 100’s, they won’t be a lock for a medal. The USA, Australia, Italy, Great Britain, Hungary, and Brazil will all bring multiple 47s and even some 46s to the table. But if a fourth man shows up and shows potential for a 47, they will enter into Fukuoka with a chance at improving upon their Olympic time of 3:10.82 and could get themselves in the fight for a medal.
The men who have entered the 100 freestyle behind Liendo, Gaziev, and Acevedo include Finlay Knox (49.23), Stephen Calkins (49.65), Edouard Fallum-Huot (50.06), Blake Tierney (50.42), James LeBuke (50.47), and Paul Dardis (50.76). It will take a time drop from any of those men to get into the top three and none so far have pulled off a World-Championships-podium caliber relay split. Knox hit a 48.82 last summer, Caulkins hit a 48.95, and Dardis a 49.87. Tierney recently posted a 50.01 split at the 2023 USports Swimming Championships, and Fallum-Huot swam a 49.89 anchor leg at Candian Nationals in July 2022.
So that pack of men behind the leading trio have an assortment of relay splits that are on the precipice of what Canada needs. There aren’t any relays at Trials so the real test will come in the individual 100 freestyle. If the fastest man outside of Liendo, Gaziev, and Acevedo breakthrough with a sizeable drop from their entry time, it might be an indicator that Canada is on track for a relay revival. If that doesn’t happen and we see a series of 49-mids, the situation for Canada’s 4×100 free might remain up in the air.