2023 Mare Nostrum Canet: All The Links Plus Hidden Gems To Watch


The first stop of the 2023 Mare Nostrum Tour kicks off tomorrow in Canet-en-Roussillon, France with a wealth of international talent set to take to the pool.

As a reminder, this year’s Mare Nostrum includes the following meets:

  • Canet, FRA – May 13-14
  • Barcelona, ESP – May 17-18
  • Monaco – May 20-21

We reported how American Michael Andrew is set to take on a monster schedule of 8 events in Canet, while fellow superstars Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), Cate Campbell (AUS), Florent Manaudou (FRA), Tomoru Honda (JPN) and Siobhan Haughey (HKG) are also among the contenders.

Sifting through the start lists, however, there are a few hidden gems that may use this meet as a pre-World Championships breakout affair.

Rikako Ikee – Japan

22-year-old Rikako Ikee of Japan took most of last year off of racing but already put up some strong times at domestic competitions in 2023.

The 2-time Olympian claimed four titles at the Japan Championships last month, including qualifying for the World Championships in the women’s 100m fly in a time of 57.68.

She’s entered in 4 events in Canet, set to race the 50m free, 100m free, 200m free and 50m fly, the latter of which she’s currently ranked 4th in the world with her season-best of 25.59.

Ellen Walshe – Ireland

Ireland’s Ellen Walshe has been diving in all over the world already this season including the Lisbon International Meet in February, the Edinburgh International Meet in March and the Irish Open Championships last month.

The 21-year-old University of Tennessee athlete’s highlight thus far came in the form of her 100m butterfly Irish national record of 57.96, a time which represented Walshe’s first time ever under the 58-second threshold in the event.

Walshe is expected to race in a packed schedule of 6 events here including the 50m/100m back, 50m/100m fly and 200m/400m IM.

Thea Blomsterberg – Denmark

The women’s breaststroke field is getting crowded and one more contender has added her hat into the ring in the form of Thea Blomsterberg.

21-year-old Blomsterberg of Denmark has been on a tremendous upward trajectory, especially in the 200m breaststroke race as of late. At the Danish Open last month, Blomsterberg ripped a lifetime best of 2:22.61, a time that crushed her prior career-quickest outing of 2:24.47.

At the time of her performance, Blomsterberg ranked #1 in the world. Although others have surpassed the Dane to have her situated now 5th, her massive time drop is putting her on the right path with Fukuoka on the horizon.

So Ogata – Japan

When one thinks of the 200m IM in Japan, Daiya Seto immediately comes to mind. However, So Ogata, who just turned 20 years of age last month, has been steadily making his mark in the event.

At the Japan Championships last month, Ogato put up a mark of 1:57.52 to snag silver behind Seto, adding his name to the nation’s World Championships roster in the process.

Ogata’s time represented a lifetime best, shaving nearly half a second off of his previous PB of 1:57.81 from last year. He ranks 9th in the world this season and enters this competition as the 2nd-seeded swimmer behind Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches.

Jacob Peters – Great Britain

After a couple of years of relatively stagnant long course performances, Jacob Peters broke through in a big way at last month’s British Swimming Championships.

22-year-old Peters beat out two big guns and reigning national record holders en route to claiming both the 50m and 100m British national titles in Sheffield.

In the 100m distance, Peters unleashed a time of 51.16 to claim gold over James Guy, easily overtaking his previous career-quickest of 51.50 logged at last year’s World Championships. Peters also scored a PB in the 50m fly, taking the title over Ben Proud in time of 22.89, his first outing ever under 23 seconds.

Peters is set to take on both of these events this weekend in Canet, where we’ll once again see him pitted against Guy in the 100m race.

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About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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