Oleksiak’s 1:54.3 Split Leads Canadian Women To National Record In 4×200 Free


A sizzling 1:54.36 anchor leg from Penny Oleksiak propelled the Canadian women to a new National Record in the 800 free relay, winning the bronze medal in the process.

The team of Kayla SanchezTaylor RuckEmily Overholt and Oleksiak combined for a time of 7:44.35, knocking over a second off the previous mark of 7:45.39 set at the 2016 Olympic Games (where they also took bronze).


Oleksiak also split sub-1:55 on the relay in Rio at 1:54.94. She made the individual 200 free final here in Gwangju, but has yet to break 1:56 individually. Ruck joined her on the Olympic relay while both were just 16, while Katerine Savard and Brittany Maclean were the other two.

Canada, 2016 Olympics Canada, 2019 Worlds
Savard – 1:57.91 Sanchez – 1:57.32
Ruck – 1:56.18 Ruck – 1:56.41
Maclean – 1:56.36 Overholt – 1:56.26
Oleksiak – 1:54.94 Oleksiak – 1:54.36
7:45.39 7:44.35

Sanchez’s lead-off leg of 1:57.32 was less than a tenth off her PB from last summer’s Pan Pacs (1:57.23), and Overholt split a full second under her flat start best time. Ruck was the only one who was a bit off her best, almost two seconds slower than her National Record of 1:54.44.

Oleksiak’s split was the fastest flying leg in the field, though Ariarne Titmus was faster on the lead-off in 1:54.27 for a new Commonwealth Record. She led the Aussies to gold and a new world record of 7:41.50, while the American squad broke their National Record for silver in 7:41.87.

The previous world record stood at 7:42.08 from China back at the 2009 Championships in Rome.

It’s worth noting that Ruck (200 free) and Oleksiak (100 free) both had surprising withdrawals from arguably their best events here in Gwangju, while Swimming Canada puts an increased emphasis on the relays.

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William Charles Alexander
2 years ago

Re-emergence of Oleksiak is great to see, though conversely, Ruck has been well below par considering her world-beating 2018. If they can both peak at the same time next year in Tokyo, Canadas gonna be a real threat in relays.

2 years ago

1:54.32 relay split definitely means potential to be under 1:55 from a regular start! Would have been interesting to see her 100 free time. Going to be a tough choice for the coaches to pick who is on the 4×100 medley relay for freestyle.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  COVFEFE
2 years ago

I’d pick Oleksiak. Swimming in a meet is about form and momentum.

And it’s clear Oleksiak got both form and momentum better than Ruck.

2 years ago

Really makes you wonder what she could have done in the 100… if I was a Canadian fan I’d be pretty ticked at these scratches. What do you Canadians think?

Reply to  Caleb
2 years ago

We agree that it would of been nice to see her swim the 100, but personally I’d rather her feel good about the meet and carry that positive mindset into 2020 rather than have it potentially derailed by a sub-par 100

Reply to  COVFEFE
2 years ago

I’m with you Covfefe. I can wait until next year to see what Oleksiak can do in the 100. At this stage I can handle the delicate gloves Team CAN is using to keep her confidence up.

Reply to  COVFEFE
2 years ago

Completely agree. Penny has had to carry an incredible amount of media pressure in the wake of Rio and clearly struggled over the past 2 years. I am interpreting her results this meet, and the 100 fr scratch, as an indication that she is physically back on form and mentally still shaky. The 100 free is high stakes, psychologically. If avoiding it meant it was possible for her to show up on deck and have other good race experiences, then it was worth it. The risk, of course, is that as with most things avoidance tends to increase anxiety next time around. So I hope the decision was made really mindfully.

Lil Prometheus Fluff
Reply to  Caleb
2 years ago

I think she would have been on par with her best however I think the goal of this year was to get her back fit enough to do a world class 200 and i think next year we’ll see her develop her speed and defend her title.

Reply to  Caleb
2 years ago

As a Canadian and fan of Oleksiak I was pretty bummed to see her scratch the 100. I think the team really needs her to have something positive to build on next year, so this relay result gives us that and more. I trust Ben Titley and the staff with these tough choices. I feel as though this creates a winning environment for future events (not to mention gets Oleksiak out of any of the negativity that’s been over her the last couple seasons).

Reply to  Caleb
2 years ago

As a Canadian I totally support the scratch. The Canadian team is preparing for Tokyo and has now qualified 3 women’s relays for the Olympics. These girls are very young and Penny in particular has had constant media scrutiny for the last 3 years that can be as relentless and unforgiving as paparazzi

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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