arena Swim of the Week: Regan Rathwell Overcomes Injury Woes To Make Canadian Olympic Team

Swim of the Week is brought to you by arena, a SwimSwam partner.

Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

The look on her face said it all.

Regan Rathwell has been on the radar as one of Canada’s up-and-coming female backstrokers who could break through and make a senior international team for years, placing 4th in the 200 back and 6th in the 100 back at the last Olympic Trials three years ago.

She then had some monstrous swims at the end of 2021 in short course meters at the Ontario Junior International meet—including a 2:04.17 in the 200 back to rank #2 all-time (now #3) in the Canadian 15-17 age group—and dropped a new best time of 2:09.54 in the long course 200 back in May 2022 on the Mare Nostrum Tour.

That came after she was well off form at the 2022 World Championship Trials due to breaking her foot one month out.

She then began her freshman year at the University of Tennessee, but surgery to repair a torn labrum halted her progress, and she ended up taking nearly a full year out of competition.

The 20-year-old came into this week’s Canadian Olympic Trials flying under the radar due to her absence at the 2023 World Trials, but perhaps that shouldn’t have been the case given her 2:12.08 swim in the 200 back at the San Antonio Pro Swim in April, her fastest in two years.

After narrowly missing her best time in the 100 back on Wednesday, placing 4th in a time of 1:00.23, Rathwell came through in the 200 back final on Thursday.

The Greater Ottawa Kingfish product executed her race perfectly, setting a personal best time of 2:09.38 to qualify for her first Olympic team after an arduous couple of years.

“I’m so overjoyed. I don’t even have words,” Rathwell told CBC post-race. “It’s kind of been an up and down path the past couple years dealing with injury and health issues, but having a really great support system in place between teammates, coaches, and family makes all the difference.”

Rathwell was the runner-up to National Record holder Kylie Masse, who swam her fastest time in three years (2:06.24) to add the 200 back to her program in Paris after winning the 100 back one night earlier.

Rathwell was a full second under the Olympic qualifying time (‘A’ cut) of 2:10.39.

“Every swim I do now is a bonus after being out of the water for so long,” Rathwell told Swimming Canada. “I’m really appreciating the sport more and more and just doing it for the enjoyment.

“Halfway through the race I was kind of like, ‘OK, you know what? I feel good. Let’s give this a real go.’”

A rising junior at Tennessee, Rathwell produced near identical splits to what she recorded two years ago in breaking 2:10 for the first time.

If we add the splits from her first, second and fourth 50s, there’s only a .01 difference. The 17 one-hundredths she gained on the third 50 proved to be the difference-maker for the new PB.

Split Comparison

Rathwell, 2022 Rathwell, 2024
30.64 30.61
1:03.66 (33.02) 1:03.69 (33.08)
1:36.99 (33.33) 1:36.85 (33.16)
2:09.54 (32.55) 2:09.38 (32.53)


Rathwell has one remaining entry in Toronto, the 50 free, which takes place on Sunday.

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About arena

arena has revolutionized the world of aquatic sport through insightful collaboration with world class athletes and the development of cutting edge competitive swimwear since 1973. Today, this spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on through a continuous evolution of advanced materials and Italian design that improves the performance, style and expression of all those who chose arena. From leading the lanes to living in style, arena is dedicated to providing all swimmers with the tools they need to express themselves, feel confident, win and achieve more. Because in arena, you can.

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1 month ago

So well earned! What a testament to determination and having a great support system. Could not have happened to a more deserving swimmer. These are the stories you love to read and if lucky witness! Congrats, Regan!!

1 month ago

So happy for her, love hearing about people overcoming sickness or injuries to bounce back

1 month ago

Why not call this the “Featured Swim of the Week” rather than the “Swim of the Week?” The disclaimer is there at the top of the article, but it looks pretty bad to highlight something as the “Swim of the Week” that wasn’t the world record because people skim or just look at headlines.

Reply to  MarshMadness
1 month ago

headline is pretty clear

Reply to  TXSwimDad
1 month ago

The headline is “Swim of the Week,” which can lead to confusion. Not sure what point you were trying to make here.

Reply to  MarshMadness
1 month ago

Yeah I’m sure Summer is devastated about not getting swim of the week.

Did you really need another article highlighting the same thing…again?

Reply to  swimapologist
1 month ago

I’m saying framing this sponsored content as “Featured Swim of the Week” would make more sense than “Swim of the Week,” which could have alternate meaning to readers. I happen to think “Featured Swim of the Week” is a good idea. It just needs to be framed appropriately.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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