Oleksiak Scratches 200 Free, Savard 50 Fly On Day 1 of Canadian Trials


Four-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak has scratched out of the women’s 200 free on day 1 of the Canadian World Trials in Victoria, choosing to swim the 50 fly instead.

Oleksiak was seeded 2nd behind Katerine Savard with her best time of 1:57.59 from the 2016 Trials, but had to be considered the pre-race favorite after her 1:54.94 split on the 800 free relay in Rio. Savard was also the top seed in the 50 fly, but has scratched that event to focus on the 200 free.

The 50 fly is the first event of day 1 and the 200 free is the second, so it’s not a huge surprise they’ve each scratched an event. With Savard’s scratch Oleksiak is now the 3rd seed in the 50 fly at 27.24, but holds a best time of 25.93 which is just 0.01 off of Savard’s national record.

There were five other scratches from top ten seeds. #3 seed Mary-Sophie Harvey scratched the women’s 200 breast, #10 seed Emma Ball is out of the women’s 50 fly, and Josh Zakala (2nd), Alexander Pratt (3rd) and Brian Palaschuk (4th) all scratched out of the men’s 800 free.

Other day 1 scratches:

  • Stephen Calkins (men’s 50 fly, men’s 100 back)
  • Noah Choboter (men’s 50 fly)
  • Alexander Pratt (men’s 50 fly)
  • Tristan Cote (men’s 200 free)
  • Luke Reilly (men’s 200 breast)
  • Rosie Zavaros (women’s 100 back)
  • Jessie Gibson (women’s 100 back)
  • Josiah Binnema (men’s 100 back)
  • Kate Rendall (women’s 1500 free)
  • Alexander Blaskovich (men’s 800 free)
  • Etienne Paquin-Foisy (men’s 800 free)
  • Nail Kaddache (men’s 800 free)


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3 years ago

how does the Canadian WC selection process work? Does it mean that Oleksiak won’t compete at 200free at all in Budapest? Neither individually nor in relay?

Reply to  James Sutherland
3 years ago

What a petty? Who is going to challenge Ledecky at 200 free. The only distance where there is some chance to dethrone her. Nobody left but 28 yo Pellegrini.

Reply to  James Sutherland
3 years ago

I think that Sjostrom won’t change her decision to not compete at 200 free. She had enough of such a “joy” in Rio. She has a great rare opportunity to win all sprint races in fly and free. That will be unprecedented feat. She won’t risk it for very tough and doubtful win at 200 free. Comerford was 1:59 in March. At the same meet she went under 54 at 100 free. Is she able to drop 5sec ? (It is a rhetoric question. No need to answer)

Reply to  James Sutherland
3 years ago

Comerford might be a serious surprise comes the summer ……

3 years ago

American 4×200 relay has two 1:56 low vacancies.
Will Mallory participate at PSS next week? Is 200 free in her program?

Reply to  Prickle
3 years ago

I doubt Oleksiak would be ready this year to pose any sort of challenge to ledecky in the 200. She’s had somebody injury problems since rio.

Reply to  Pvdh
3 years ago

It’s true but she is the only elite sprinter beside Sarah Sjostrom, who has strong second half at 100 and is capable to extend sprint up to 150 and not to die after last turn at 200. If Katie Ledecky could expect some challenger on the rise then it could be only Penny. 200 is too much for McKeon to expect her to progress beyond shown in Rio. And nobody else are capable to dive under 1:55. Maybe other Canadian youngsters surprise us. We will see it tomorrow.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  Prickle
3 years ago

Emma McKeon.

Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Good if she does it. After six or so years of being consistently the most intriguing and open race of the meet we don’t want this discipline to get back in stagnation. Unless Katie Ledecky is up to the Pellegrini’s world record (that may not be the case) the 200 free race can get boring.

3 years ago

Surprising for Penny to drop the 200 over the 50. The 50 is not a selection event, guess she’s just using it as a first swim to get comfortable?

Reply to  Canadian_swim
3 years ago

Yes, I think so.
Too many physical troubles hampered her preparation to begin in this season “the 200-free project” (or the even more futuristic 200 fly-project)
I’m curious to se how she will be swimming in her real races at this trials, i.e. the 100 fly and free.

Taylor Ruck, “victim of OT”, 12 months later is the favorite for individual 200 free. Kayla Sanchez the most improved swimmer so far in the season.

Bill G
Reply to  nuotofan
3 years ago

Since Oleksiak swam the 200m free at the 2015 Trials (finishing 2nd) and dropped a 1:54.94 relay split in Rio, I would say that the 200m free project appears well-advanced. I agree that her injuries may have been a factor in this decision to scratch the 200m free. It will be interesting to see if she elects to swim the 200m fly -as noted in previous SwimSwam articles, this is a rare women’s event with nobody in the field having a FINA-A standard. My personal theory …. with 4 spots up for grabs in the 200m free, Oleksiak scratching gives a better chance for her training partners – Rebecca Smith and Kayla Sanchez – to punch their tickets to Budapest… Read more »

Reply to  nuotofan
3 years ago

There’s also the fact that the 50m butterfly is right before the 200m freestyle. Both Oleksiak and Savard would have needed to pick one or the other, with not enough recovery time between races, even in the heats.

3 years ago

This may be Taylor Ruck’s breakout senior meet (long course) if she’s healthy. Excited to see what she can do– a very versatile swimmer.

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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