The first night of the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto provided some spectacular moments including new Canadian records, surprising upsets and heart breaking finishes.
1. New Canadian Records
Brittany MacLean and Penny Oleksiak both took down Canadian records in extremely convincing fashion. MacLean won the women’s 400 freestyle in a time of 4:03.84 breaking her own Canadian record of 4:05.06, which she posted at the 2012 London Olympics. The closest she has been to that time since is a 4:05.91 that she put up at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.
Oleksiak made some astonishing improvements over the last 24 hours. Coming into the competition the 15 year old had a best time of 58.44, which she recorded at the Eastern Canadian Championships just over a month ago. Oleksiak won the women’s 100 butterfly in a time of 56.99, breaking Katerine Savard’s record of 57.27, thus becoming the first Canadian to swim under the 57 second mark.
2. Plenty of Upsets
The first upset came in the men’s 100 breaststroke where Jason Block beat defending Canadian champion Richard Funk. Funk came into the meet as the favourite after making the making the semi-finals in the event at the World Championships and recording a best time of 1:00.26 in the preliminaries in Kazan. His time in Kazan was faster than the FINA A standard of 1:00.57.
After finishing fifth in the 100 butterfly at the World Championships in Kazan 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist and Canadian record holder Katerine Savard came into the trials with a goal earning the opportunity to swim the 100 butterfly at her second Olympic Games. Savard has been pushed by Noemie Thomas, who finished second in tonight’s final, in the past, but tonight she was shocked by 15 year old Penny Oleksiak won the event breaking Savard’s Canadian record in the process.
In the end Savard finished third missing the Olympic team in her best event.
The 200 freestyle was not a huge upset, but an upset nonetheless. Defending Canadian Jeremy Bagshaw won the national title last spring in a time of 1:47.48, a time that is faster than the FINA A standard of 1:47.97. Tonight Bagshaw was beat by 18 year old Markus Thormeyer who won the event in a time of 1:48.17.
3. Narrow Misses
One of the things that an Olympic trials so compelling is that the work a swimmer has put in throughout their career comes down to one moment. When a swimmer misses a cut by a narrow margin it is heart breaking to watch. Tonight three athletes were less than half a second away from their Olympic dreams.
Jason Block won the men’s 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:00.59 missing the FINA A standard by two one-hundredths of a second. Markus Thormeyer won the men’s 200 freestyle in a time of 1:48.17 two tenths of a second off of the FINA A time. Luke Rielly won the men’s 400 IM in a time of 4:17.14 43 one-hundredths of a second away from the FINA A time.