According to a CBC report, Olympic champion Penny Oleksiak will not compete at the 2023 Canadian World Championships Trials. Oleksiak won’t be racing at the meet because she is still recovering and rehabilitating from her summer 2022 knee surgery.
Oleksiak said “I’m working hard to prioritize my recovery right now. Unfortunately, I’m not quite ready to race my best at trials.”
The meet will run from March 28 – April 2, 2023, and will be used to select the teams for the 2023 World Championships and the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships. It is not clear yet whether Oleksiak will have the opportunity to qualify for the meet at a later date if she is back in the competition pool before World Championships in July.
Oleksiak has raced at nearly every major international meet for Canada since the 2016 Olympics when she won a gold medal in the 100 freestyle. Most recently, Oleksiak swam at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest where she placed 4th in the 100 freestyle (52.98). She also won a silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle and bronze in the 4×200 freestyle and 4×100 medley relays.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Oleksiak became Canada’s most decorated Olympian in history. There, she won 200 freestyle bronze, 4×100 freestyle silver, and 4×100 medley bronze. That brought her two a total of 7 Olympic medals, having won four in Rio five years earlier.
Earlier this year, Oleksiak entered in the Fort Lauderdale Pro Swim Series and the Knoxville Pro Swim Series, but at both meets she scratched aall of her races, likely for the same reason for her absence at Trials.
In Oleksiak’s absence, there will still be many Canadian stars to keep an eye on at Trials later this month. World Championships medalists such as Kylie Masse, Taylor Ruck, Summer McIntosh, Josh Liendo, Javier Acevedo, and many more will all be in pursuit of spots on the team this summer.
It just ocurred to me that if she gets back in form for the olympics next year, the US won’t be Australia’s biggest challenger in the 4X200 free relay. Both Oleksiak and Ruck have been 1:54 from a flat start and who knows what McIntosh will be capable of by then.
Canada have been talked about as a threat here for the past couple of years but it hasn’t quite panned out.
If Summer can improve further and provide a 1:53 something lead off, Ruck and Oleksiak can both theoretically split 1:54 low (although neither have been close in the last 3 years). Their only problem is their fourth leg is Rebecca Smith whose PB split is 1:55.99, but she’s only done that once and never been close again (although she swam very well in this event in Melbourne). Using just Australia’s times from 2022, they would be faster than Canada’s 4 fastest ever splits, even assuming McIntosh leads off in a 1:53.
The 200 relay seems to have a lot… Read more »
No country has the freestyle depth Australia has that’s for sure. I just sort of forgot about Oleksiak and this article reminded me that she in fact medaled in Tokyo in the 200 free, and then I looked up the canadian record and Ruck’s name still shows up since Summer’s new record hasn’t been ratified yet, and got a bit surprised lol.
Also I’m not that up-to-date; who are the best options for the remaining two relay spots for Australia right now (aside from Titmus and MOC of course)? I know Emma McKeon has been 1:54 several times (flat start), so that seems like a safe choice for one. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect MOC to… Read more »
No one really knows if McKeon will target the 4×2 going forward and other than McKeon it’s a bit of a lottery.
Her taking on the 200 fly last week (and almost PBing) seemed to suggest she’s not quite done with middle distance. But who knows, maybe she was just having some fun.
Melverton and Neale both split 1:55 low last year. If McKeon chooses to pursue it (I have changed my mind back and forth multiple times about whether she will) then even on a bad day she’s a 1:55 low. Wilson’s flat PB is a 1:55.6 so in theory she should slot right in but her performance in the relay has been a bit inconsistent. Pallister was our fastest leg in Melbourne, but strangely enough, was slower than Rebecca Smith’s flat start who is Canada’s slowest leg.
So yeah, as Troyy said, it’s Titmus and MOC for sure, McKeon if she pursues it, and then a wide open field.
EDIT: Jack and Throssell both split respectable 1:57s for in season, putting… Read more »
Rebecca Smith is far better in short course than long course.
I think Jack’s 1:57 was more impressive than it seemed because of the way she paced it. Going out in 55.1 when you’re not even tapered is a bit insane and probably why she really died on the way home so you’d think with more sane pacing she’d have been 1:56 possibly even 1:56 low in season.
After posting my comment about McKeon not targeting the 4×2 I had another look at the Paris schedule and the schedule is actually very favourable for her to swim the 4×2 compared to Worlds and Tokyo because it now comes the day after the 100 free final and she’d also have a… Read more »
The schedule in Paris is more favourable than Tokyo for McKeon. But my reservations aren’t about the schedule, more the training. Is it worth her training for the 200 for a single relay if it might impact her 3 individual sprint events and 3 sprint relays?
She does train for the 200 as part of training for the 100 (Chalmers also approaches the 100 in this way) so even if the final focus on speed before the big day affects her 200 like it did in Tokyo she might still be the best of the rest after Titmus and MOC. The only one that has split faster than her 1:55.3 in Tokyo has been Neale last year and only barely.
Very good point! Seems unlikely we’d find two swimmers faster than her.
Actually Oleksiak has: 154 to win Olympic 🥉 in ’21, then a 155 relay split last summer ’22 world’s. Of anyone I’d be very confident she can get back to that, injury recovery aside. She had proven to be at her best literally on the biggest stage even with down time or injury time prior to. She also seems happier, motivated and very confident as a ‘pro’ swimmer and leading marketable star of Canadian team.
Taylor is a huge success story simply doing what she’s doing despite her challenges past couple years. She may never approach her 154 low and 51.7 relay 2018/19 form again, but if she’s 52 mid and 155 relay split then a huge help.
Yes past… Read more »
I took a quick scan of the selection procedures and looks like there is a way to petition onto the team due to injury by submitting consideration times from last year but who knows if she’ll try to go that route or if she’ll just give this racing season a complete pass.
If her recovery progresses well in the next few months maybe Penny swims relays only at Worlds, like Maggie MacNeil did last year. I hope so. Canada’s relays will be significantly impacted if she is absent.
Fortunately with FINA having changed the relay qualification requirements for Paris i think Canada can likely qualify for Paris without her. IMHO without her though the likelihood of the relays getting on the podium at the worlds this year would definitely decrease. But obviously her long term health is more important.
The way it normally works is she will get given a relay spot in both the 100 and 200 free if swim Canada believes she will be ready. Slim possibility for an individual spot in then event less than 2 people get the fina A in those events although that is normally just for the men.
Won’t be the same without her, but 2024 is her priority now. Wishing her the best in her recovery. Hopefully she comes back stronger than ever 🙂