Women’s 200 Breaststroke
This race, expected to be the next-best race after the 100 breaststroke (with largely the same field), ended up being even better. Tera van Beilen and Martha McCabe hurtled towards the finish. Both clearly had designs on the other, with some great camera angles showing clearly the intense expressions on their faces as each fought stroke-by-stroke to beat the other. But with about 15 meters to go, van Beilen, on her 19th birthday just freaking tore into her legs. (Is it ok to say “freaking” in a recap? I couldn’t find a better expression). By the time the pair, deadlocked for two-minutes, came to the wall, van Beilen won quite comfortably in 2:24.03 – a best time by two-and-a-half seconds. McCabe touched 2nd in 2:24.81.
The point to keep in mind is that McCabe already had a time from her bronze medal at Worlds that would confidently carry her to the Olympics – however had this race played out a bit differently from the 3rd-and-4th-place swimmers, she could have been burned. As it is, that swim matched identically her time from the World Championship finals. As for van Beilen, this gives her two entries at the Olympics, as she’s also through as the runner-up from the 100.
Those are also the second-and-third-best times in the World in 2012.
Just like in the 100, the youth really took over this race. McCabe was the veteran of the top 4 at 22-years old, and after her came another pair of teenagers – Ashley McGregor in 2:26.56 and Kierra Smith in 2:26.73.
The big stunner here is that the World Record holder Annamay Pierse is now left off of the team, as she finished 5th in 2:27.14. Nobody expects her to be close to that World Record at this point of her career (and out of the high-tech suits), but that swim was more than three-seconds slower than her time at last year’s World Championships. In her only other race of 2012, she swam a 2:34 in a Time Trial, which was an ugly omen. Perhaps not enough racing in the early months of this year did her in, but this is a huge disappointment.
Men’s 100 Fly
This 100 fly will be one of the great events of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials. That is, for those who caught it. For the really special moment didn’t happen in the water, or even on the medal stand. It happened as event champion, and Olympic qualifier, Joe Bartoch (likely nearing the end of his career) was walking away from receiving his gold medal. He took the award and flipped it to a young fan in the crowd, who will probably remember it as the greatest moment of his life (and the expression on his face described that feeling). To some, this could be seen as a brazenly flippant “this medal doesn’t mean much to me”.
But here’s what it really is – a veteran swimmer who has piles of these medals sitting somewhere at home. Rather than add another one to the collection, where it would sit for the next few decades and gather dust, he shared with the future of Canadian Swimming, who will hang it high above his bed at least for the next decade, if not longer, and show it off to anyone who is willing to look. Those are the special moments.
The runner-up was Kourosh Ahani in 54.08.
Women’s 100 Free
This was a great battle between a pair of stars on the Canadian team, both of whom are hitting the primes of their careers. Victoria Poon turned first well ahead of Julia Wilkinson, but Wilkinson roared back to finish first in 54.73, with Poon touching just behind at 54.86. For Wilkinson, that’s the fastest she’s been in textile (aka outside of the 2008 Olympics) which is a great bounceback swim for her. She’s won three titles at this meet, and with two times she’ll be pleased with (the 100 back and 100 free) and a third that she’ll be happy to have a win in (200 IM). All-in-all, she did everything she needed to do, everywhere she needed to do it.
Joining those two on the relay in London will be Heather MacLean (55.06) and Sam Cheverton (55.24), as the quartet’s cumulative time easily bettered the mandatory mark. Just missing out were Sandrine Mainville, who had the lead at the turn, in 55.34, and Erica Morningstar in 55.44 – making yet another National Record holder (Morningstar) who will miss the team in their record-holding event.
Bahamian swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won the B-Final in 54.50, but she swam a 54.28 in prelims which is a new personal best and Bahamas National Record.
Men’s 200 Backstroke
The Toronto Swim Club’s Tobias Oriwol passed up an opportunity to earn a Masters’ Degree from Harvard to return to Toronto in the summer of 2010 and train for a second Olympics. That paid off when he put up a 1:58.79 on Saturday night to earn a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team by winning the 200 back in 1:58.79. But it was not an easily-earned win. He had to use a big third 50 to fight off the sprinters Charles Francis and Matt Hawes, and then every inch of effort to hold off Francis in the closing strokes. None of the swimmers in this field cleared the FINA Automatic qualifying time, so it took the win to get to the Olympics.
Francis came up just short in 1:58.90, with Hawes touching 3rd in 2:00.29.
Women’s 800 Free
Savannah King cleared the old National Record in the 400 free on the first day of this meet, but didn’t get the win. In this 800, she put up a gigantic 8:30.79 that makes her the second-fastest Canadian in history in a second event, and is a 6-second improvement of her previous lifetime best.
And in a huge, could only be defined as “clutch”, swim, Alexa Komarnycky after having a handful of disappointing races, snuck onto the Olympic Team in what was one of her least-probable events. She took 2nd in 8:33.32, which clears the FINA “A” standard (and, incidentally, makes her the third-fastest Canadian ever).
The real stunner was that Brittany MacLean, who looked so good in the 400, took 3rd in this 800 in 8:33.70, which is only a few-tenths better than her previous lifetime best. She didn’t have a massive schedule over the 5 days thus far of this meet, but it’s a bit of a surprise that she didn’t get closer to an 8:30 herself. She cleared the FINA A-standard, but as the third swimmer will be left with only that 400 free for London.