And the first members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team have been named in Montreal at the 2012 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swim Trials, with a total of 5 swimmers (give or take a confusing entry rule or two) stamping their passports “London Bound”.
Men’s 400 IM
18-year old Alec Page out of Island Swimming earned the first bid (though unofficial still) for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Swim Team with a 4:17.78 in the men’s 400 IM. He fell behind his more veteran competitor Andrew Ford after the first two legs, but by looking at splits (a pair of 2:03’s on the front-half), it was pretty clear that Page was on pace for a spectacular time.
He hung back on the first 50 of the breaststroke. He then went for a monster pullout off of that second breaststroke wall, and made up big ground, but continued to lead. By the time the freestyle rolled around, however, Ford was toast, while Page seemed to catch a second wind. He crept past Ford, and then, as if bursting through some metaphorical barrier, accelerated through the last 80 meters to take the win – closing in a strong 59 freestyle split. That time is three seconds faster than he had been in his life coming into this meet.
Ford fell 6-seconds behind in 4:23.72.
As neither swimmer made the A-cut, only Page will be invited, pending FINA confirmation (based on complicated rules involving a cap on the number of swimmers at the meet). He should feel comfortable, however, with where he sits with that time.
Women’s 400 Free
The very next race, however, really got the fans buzzing with the first (of what should be many) Canadian Records went down at the hands of Brittany MacLean. She will be one of a couple of Canadians who will head to Georgia in the fall, but not before a big stop in London thanks to a 4:06.08 that is a new Canadian Record by over a second. The old mark of 4:07.32 was set by Brittany Reimer in 2005. MacLean, who is the defending World Youth Champion in the race, closed like a freight train to put a big distance between her and the field. She now ranks 5th in the world in 2012.
But she wasn’t the only Canadian under the mark. Savannah King – who just a few weeks ago set the National Short Course Record in this 400 free a few weeks ago swimming for UBC at the CIS Championships (Canadian collegiate) came in 2nd in 4:07.02. Both of those swims are under the old record and, equally importantly, under the FINA A-qualifying standard, meaning that both women will be headed to London.
Alexa Komarnycky, who has a big week ahead of her at this meet, took 3rd in 4:08.67. That’s a strong time for a swimmer who only discovered her talents in this race a few weeks ago. She’ll really be focusing on the 400 IM later in the meet. Barbara Jardin was 4th in 4:09.80, and Sam Cheverton (among the favorites in the 200) was 5th in 4:11.22.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
Scott Dickens came within two-tenths of a Canadian Record of his own in the 100 breaststroke in prelims in what he termed as an “easy swim”. In finals, he was actually a fingernail slower in 1:00.43, which leads one to believe that maybe he needs to work on trying less…when he heads to London as a member of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team. That winning time was good enough to clear the FINA A standard.
Michigan freshman Richard Funk appears to have saved his real taper-focus for this meet, and took 2nd in 1:01.27, which is easily the best time of his career. A trio from the University of Calgary took the 3rd-through-5th spots, with Jason Block (1:01.54), Paul Kornfeld (1:02.23), and Mike Brown (1:02.49). All three of those swimmers are outstanding in the 200 (especially Brown); Dickens is a good 200 breaststroker as well, but the race should tighten significantly on Saturday. Warren Barnes out of the Toronto Swim Club will be disappointed in his 1:02.55 for 7th.
Women’s 100 Fly
Katerine Savard got a bit more of a push on the back-half of this 100 fly than I think she expected, but she still touched comfortably in 58.45 for the win, which is a FINA A-Standard. That’s actually one of the slower finals swims we’ve seen from her in the last year, which says that she’s not too rested for this meet. She wasn’t able to peak at World’s last year (her best time is actually from November – after World’s), so this says she was confident in her placing and is full-blast towards July.
The surprise in second was the veteran MacKenzie Downing in 58.86 – that’s a lifetime best for her, but is disappointingly just .16 away from the FINA A-time. She’s been a model of perseverance – she was the 2007 World University Games Champion in this event, but until the last year hadn’t approached that time again. Here again, she finally went another best time (albeit by just .02). Fortunately for her, if she goes another best time in the 200 fly, and places top-two, she would have a spot for London.
Arizona State swimmer Caroline Kuczkynski carried over some success from this year’s short course season to a 3rd-place finish in 59.66. Kendra Chernoff was 4th in 59.87 – which just missed her Alberta Provincial Record of 59.76 from the prelims. Those are the first two swims under a minute since returning to Canada and training at the University of Alberta after two years at Texas A&M. She’s been faster, but not since she was an age-group swimmer where she represented Saskatchawan. She was swimming well in short course in the states, but the return home has clearly benefited her long course swimming. She’s another very good 200 butterflier.
Further down the rankings, in 7th, was 16-year old Noemi Thomas in 1:01.47. She has big hopes as the future of Canadian Swimming, but simply peaked too soon this year (she was a 59-low in January at a meet in Florida).
Men’s 200 Free
Blake Worsley (again – tentatively) sealed up his spot for the Olympics with a 1:49.06 win in the men’s 200 free. He led the race wire-to-wire, which is about what he went earlier this year at the Missouri Grand Prix (which seems to be a bit of a theme developing).
Chad Bobrosky took 2nd in 1:49.33, not his best time, and Hassan Abdel-Khalik was 3rd in 1:49.59. Bobrosky is young enough that there’s not much loss in making the team here, though Abdel-Khalik (also young, but not Bobrosky young) didn’t compete for Michigan this year to train for this meet. Abdel-Khalik was a former youth superstar for Canada – the National Youth Swimmer of the Year in 2007-2008, and at one point held every short-course freestyle 15-17 NAG Record (as well as the 100-200 long course).
The top four swimmers in this race had to aggregate to a 7:15.11 for Canada to consider having them chase Olympic qualification. They only hit a 7:18.05, so they won’t enter an 800 free relay in London on the men’s side.
Full Meet Results available here. (Results function much better in Internet Explorer or Safari than Google Chrome).
Great article Braden! I really appreciate the depth of knowledge you add to these articles.