How Does the Canadian Women’s 4 x 100 Medley Relay Stack Up After Trials?

After finishing with a Bronze at last year’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, and the 2021 Olympic Games, the hot topic at Canadian Olympic Trials last week was if the Canadian women are poised to return the podium in the 400 medley relay in Paris this summer. Qualifying first out of the morning in 2023 with a time of 3:55.93, Canada substituted two swimmers into the evening relay: Kylie Masse taking over for Ingrid Wilm on backstroke and Summer McIntosh taking over for Mary-Sophie Harvey on freestyle to finish with a time of 3:54.12, just 1.5 seconds off their Olympic Bronze medal finish. 

Now that Olympic Trials are over and the Canadian team is set, we can take a look at how the team is beginning to stack up compared to recent years. (Hint: things are looking good in the Great White North). Without any adjustment for relay takeovers and taking all top finishers’ times at face value, the Canadian women’s 2024 Paris relay looks like this:

In the 2023 World Championship relay, Masse led off in 58.74, but despite a few up and down years since Tokyo, she took off nearly a second from that time at the recent Canadian Olympic Trials, just missing her best time of 57.70. Sophie Angus was just off her personal best at Trials, though her best time comes from the World Championships in Doha in February of this year. This coupled with a relay start are likely to see her back in form to replicate or improve on her 2023 split of 1:06.21. 

Reigning 100 fly Olympic champion Maggie MacNeil is still looking to get back to under that 56-second mark, her relay split from Tokyo being a blazing 55.27. Returning from the Tokyo Bronze medal relay as well is Penny Oleksiak who closed their Olympic relay in 52.26. However, with the meteoric rise of young star Summer McIntosh who anchored the medley relay in 2023 in the same night she won the 400 IM by over 4 seconds, the coaches of the Canadian National Team may have a decision to make about who secures that final anchor leg especially when her best time of 53.90 would have put her in the mix at Trials.

With all the returning experience for the Canadian women, they are well poised to compete for another medal this summer in Paris. With the 100 breast and free titles only being separated by 0.04 and 0.05 seconds respectively at their Trials last week, Canada has enough depth to feel confident in their relay alternates abilities to position them well in the morning relay.

Their fight for a medal does not come without intense competition. They will likely face the United States, Australia, China, and Sweden in a repeat of both the 2021 Olympic and 2023 World Championship top 5 contenders. With the United States and Australia still awaiting their trials, there is some time until we can start stacking up the exact splits, but it is safe to say that both teams are big favorites to medal.

Australia’s breaststroke leg is their weakness, (much like Canada), while the United States will have some decisions to make on the back legs after Trials with Torri Huske, Kate Douglass, and Gretchen Walsh all primed to have great swims in the 100 free and Huske / Walsh also competing in the 100 fly.

Sweden has named all 4 women from their 2023 World Championship relay team back to their Olympic roster: Michelle Coleman, Sophie Hansson, Louise Hansson, and Sarah Sjoestroem. Adding up their best times would put them at 3:53.24 before relay takeovers, and if there is one thing everyone knows, it’s that Sjoestroem can never be counted out to close a relay.

China will be returning three out of four swimmers from its 4th-place 2023 World Championship relay, Letian Wan on backstroke, Qianting Tang on breaststroke, and Yufei Zhang on butterfly. Notably, Qianting Tang notched a 1:04.39 at Chinese Nationals in April, shaving nearly 2 seconds of her relay-start time of 1:06.13 from the relay last summer at World Championships. This coupled with their top 100 freestyle qualifier, Junxuan Yang, throwing down a 52.68 to win Chinese Nationals, their relay is shaping up to be a strong medal contender as well with a flat add-up time of 3:52.21.

Great Britain finished 9th at last year’s World Championships, missing out on the final altogether by about four-tenths of a second. This week, though, a big performance that could shore up one of that relay’s weakest legs thrust them back into the conversation.

21-year-old Angharad Evans is destined play a critical role in their relay this summer with her recent 1:05.54 in the 100 breast at the AP Race International over the weekend. If repeated in Paris, that could make a two-second impact on their result from last year’s World Championships. That is two of probably about five seconds they need to find to make the podium.

But with a glut of sprinters, a best time at the 2024 World Championships from backstroker Lauren Cox (59.60), and butterflyer Keanna MacInnes ahead of schedule this season in the 100 fly (58.32 at Trials), they are a much better relay this year. They would need someone besides Evans to pull a rabbit out of the hat to land on the podium, but they’re one big leg closer to that outcome.

Additional Relay Outlook

The Canadian women are also poised to contend for medals in both freestyle relays. At the last Olympic Games they finished 2nd in the 4 x 100 free and 4th in the 4 x 200 free relay, and they will be returning many key names from those teams including Summer McIntosh, Maggie MacNeil, Penny Oleksiak, and Mary-Sophie Harvey.

It will be a fierce competition all throughout the Games and Paris and especially on the last night of competition when the 4 x 100 Medley relays go off for both men and women, but the growing depth of Canadian Swimming as well as the multitude of returning talent bodes well as the team begins to prepare themselves for a trip across the pond to a country they are historically quite familiar with. 

Many countries will be vying for a place atop the podium in Paris and until the time comes, we will not know for sure how things will shake out. Until then, we will continue to keep an eye on the ongoing Trials happening around the world as we prepare for a Summer Games that promises a near return to normalcy for spectators and athletes.

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Ploki
25 days ago

Love this Canada glazing

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  Ploki
24 days ago

Excuse me, I think you mean Maple
Glaze 🍩

Swimdad
25 days ago

I have USA winning gold, Canada winning silver with Summer Mcintosh swimming the freestyle leg. Bronze could go to either Australia, China or Sweden.

Admin
Reply to  Swimdad
25 days ago

I just don’t have enough confidence in Canada’s breaststroke leg to pick them over Australia for silver. It looked like something was brewing going into Trials, and then it didn’t really happen.

Australia can overcome a 1:06 breaststroke leg because of Kaylee McKeown and Mollie O’Callaghan. Canada only has one best-in-class leg (MacNeil), and while I agree that MacNeil on free is the card you have to play if she’s swimming well…what’s the best case scenario? 52.5?

So if you’re Canada, you’re giving up 1.5-2 seconds on fly and back. Emma McKeon might be a bit past her prime, but I think she’s still within a second of MacNeil.

After running through all of this, I’m more convinced that it… Read more »

Sub13
Reply to  Swimdad
24 days ago

I agree with Braden. I can’t pick Canada over Australia. McKeown is potentially 0.6 faster than Masse but often slower on relays so let’s call it 0.2. Angus split a 1:06.2 in Doha which is a massive improvement but Strauch has split a 1:05.9 before. I’m not convinced Canada will be significantly faster. Mac Neil and McKeon are both looking a little like wild cards at the moment but let’s assume Mac Neil will be 0.5 faster. Then assume Summer swims a PB split of 52.9. AUS likely beats that with a 51 mid. If Canada improves further in breast and Aus bombs then Canada could win silver.

But then you need to consider China: China’s add ups on paper… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  Sub13
24 days ago

I think China is the odds-on for bronze. Just based on their performance at Worlds last year, I think they’re going to be good at the Olympics.

BUT I think beyond the US as a clear favorite (I think we all agree with that, aside from maybe Nick), everyone else is *close enough* that chaos could happen.

USA-Australia-China-Canada is probably the safe bet though. If the vegas odds were like they do in horse racing, that’s where I’d put my money.

Swimdad
Reply to  Braden Keith
24 days ago

Two countries are guaranteed a medal in the women medley relay, USA and Australia.

Australia either wins silver or bronze.

Canada can place as high as second or drop to fourth, and China falls somewhere in between.

Assuming MacNeil hands Summer a 1sec lead, can M. O’Collaghan chase her down?

I don’t recall anyone successfully chasing Summer down( she always seem to have something left the last 25M).
This is why I’m betting my 1 dollar on USA-Canada-Australia-China in that order.

I guess we get a clearer picture after the Aussie trials.

SNygans01
Reply to  Swimdad
24 days ago

Could you just run through how you see Canada having a 1 sec. lead over Australia at half-way? You must be factoring a large deficit for Australia to Canada on the BRS, even if Masse doesn’t lose anything to McKeown.

I would say that if Australia swims about on-par with their best times on paper, and if Canada is a full second ahead of them at half-way, Canada is in with a fairly good shot at winning gold (though only just, at best)!

Sub13
Reply to  Swimdad
24 days ago

If I was going to bet on someone to chase McIntosh down I would probably bet on the person with the fastest final 50 in history in both the 100 and 200 freestyle. That’s MOC

Hoj
25 days ago

One of the best written articles I’ve ever seen on here. Well done.

Octavio Gupta
25 days ago

4th or 5th

Helk bengur
25 days ago

Sweden’s record in the medley relay was 3:54.2 in tokyo, although their pb is 3:53, I don’t see that in them. Coleman is less fit on her back and the sisters Hansson and Sarah are practically the same as there. I don’t see less than 3:54.2 for them.

Last edited 25 days ago by Helk bengur
gitech
25 days ago

Angus could divide about 1:05.9/1:06.5
Masse 57,9
Macneil 55,6
Oleksiak/mcintosh 52,7?? (Ruck did It in Doha)
This is a total: 3:52.4 (very close chinese)

Rafael
Reply to  gitech
25 days ago

You are comparing relay split for canada with flat for china…

Sub13
Reply to  gitech
24 days ago

As Rafael said, you’re comparing China flat starts to Canada flying splits. Also I love that the translator you used has translated “relay split” as “relay divide” haha

phelpsfan
25 days ago

I think Angus has much more in the tank for Paris

Outside Smoke
Reply to  phelpsfan
25 days ago

Hard to believe she half-tapered for trials with how tight the breaststroke competition was. Though I think everyone in that final was feeling the pressure and it really impacted the times.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
25 days ago

2024 Chinese National Swimming Championships
W 100 FR
Yang, Junxuan – 52.68
Wu, Qingfeng – 53.25
Cheng, Yujie – 53.27
Zhang, Yufie – 53.27
Total Time – 3:32.47

About Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns was born Sept. 17 1997 in Saratoga, Calif. to mother Anne Griswold. The freestyle and medley specialist chose to swim for the University of Georgia where he is currently a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry. Back in California, he swims under head coach John Bitter for the Santa Clara Swim …

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