Olympic Champ Penny Oleksiak Rips Fastest 100 Free Since Rio: 52.89

2021 CANADIAN OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

Penny Oleksiak is back at the top of her game, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time.

Oleksiak, who won four medals at the 2016 Olympic Games at the age of 16 including a gold in the women’s 100 freestyle, just put up her fastest time in the event since that final in Rio at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto.

The recently-turned 21-year-old pulled away from an elite field on the second 50 in Tuesday night’s final, closing in 27.23 for a final time of 52.89—good for fourth-fastest in the world this season.

2020-2021 LCM Women 100 Free

EmmaAUS
McKeon
07/30
51.96
2Siobhan
Haughey
HKG52.2707/30
3Cate
Campbell
AUS52.4304/15
4Penny
Oleksiak
CAN52.5907/30
5Sarah
Sjostrom
SWE52.6207/25
View Top 26»

Oleksiak set her best time in that 2016 Olympic final at 52.70, a clocking that remains the World Junior Record, tying American Simone Manuel for the gold medal. Oleksiak also went 52.72 in the semi-finals in Rio, but those are the only two swims she’s ever had faster than what she went tonight.

Prior to tonight’s performance, Oleksiak’s only sub-53 swim since those 2016 Games came at the 2017 World Championships, where she placed sixth in the final in a time of 52.94. Since those 2017 Worlds, her only swim sub-53.5 came at the Pro Swim Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn., in January 2020 at 53.41.

Oleksiak was one of six swimmers nominated to the Canadian Olympic team prior to the Trials, earning a spot in Tokyo in the 200 free after placing sixth in the event at the 2019 World Championships.

Oleksiak surprisingly scratched the 100 free at those Worlds, opting to focus more on the relays, where she delivered with four 52-point splits, including a 52.00 anchor on the mixed 400 free relay.

The Toronto native finished second in the 200 free on Day 2 of the Trials, with 14-year-old standout Summer McIntosh claiming the win, but Oleksiak still needed a first-place finish (or second to Taylor Ruck) in the 100 free to assure herself an opportunity to defend her title at the Games, and she did so in a big way.

Ruck earned an early nomination to the Olympic team in the 100 free after finishing fifth at Worlds, meaning that Trials runner-up Kayla Sanchez (53.77) won’t be able to race the event individually in Tokyo. Sanchez will feature prominently on the 400 free relay, and qualified individually in the 50 free on Monday.

Ruck finished fifth in the final in a time of 54.58, with Maggie MacNeil (54.02) and Katerine Savard (54.51).

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Anonymous
1 year ago

Happy for her

Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Who would’ve thought coming into this year that of the co-Olympic champs in the 100 free, it would be Penny who has the only shot at a repeat gold?

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

I didn’t know about Taylor Ruck’s health challenges. 54.58 in those conditions and not tapered, it’s pretty good.
Penny Oleksiak is back at her best at the perfect time after rough years since Rio.
Most of Canadian stars are clearly not tapered for that meet as they are already qualified for Tokyo and it’s a huge advantage.
The US women’s free relays will have their hands full with Canada for the silver medals.

AnEn
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Why are most people sleeping on China? China this year has been faster than the US and Canada in the 400 free relay. In the 800 free relay China so far this year is 2 seconds faster than Canada and only 1.5 seconds behind the US. Based on individual times the canadian women (in 4th) right now are closer to Germany in 5th than to China in 3rd.

Also who exactly isn’t tapered? Maybe Oleksiak, maybe Ruck and maybe MacNeil. It is true that some of them were prequalified, but don’t you think that Ruck for example wanted to get an individual spot in the 200 free and/or at least one of the backstroke events? Oleksiak also had to… Read more »

Jamie5678
Reply to  AnEn
1 year ago

Ruck did qualify for the 100 back.

Not sure about the others, although Pickrem’s mum said that she wasn’t tapered on CBC’s FamCam. So unless there’s a quite complicated Canadian conspiracy to lull the rest of the world into a false sense of security, it’s not altogether inconceivable that Ruck isn’t tapered either.

Canuck Fan
Reply to  AnEn
1 year ago

It is rumoured else where on swim swam that Ruck has a wrist injury requiring surgery that she was encouraged to wait until after Olympics. Haven’t seen this verified anywhere else. I agree with Bobo. Ignoring China would be a big mistake. The swimmer’s times behind Penny not terribly encouraging… both in 4×1 and 4×2. I think repeat bronze in both free relays would be a reasonable outcome. At this point hard to see Canada going much beyond it’s total medal tally in Rio. Repeating 1 gold may need a miracle.. 100 butterfly seems most likely but obviously far from certain. Of course medals are won on race day and not in the rankings lists.

Jamie5678
Reply to  Canuck Fan
1 year ago

She’s not swum yet and this is very premature but I’m going to say that Pickrem might be worth watching in the 400IM. It’s a wide open event and she’s swimming very well on the basis of her 200.

NJones
Reply to  Jamie5678
1 year ago

She has been really on the past spring and even the ISL fall. I sense she might approach 207 which could challenge for gold.

SwimMom
1 year ago

So politically UNFAIR that Ruck was ‘preselected’ on times from 3yrs ago and hasn’t swam near top form …nor looked anywhere near world-class speeds… but has been selected as the Tokyo rep for the 100fr …
SHAME ON YOU SWIM CANADA!!!
Both Kayla & Maggie made OlymA Standard and beat ANY time Taylor has posted recently …
My heart breaks for Kayla. She deserves that spot!!!

ScovaNotiaSwimmer
Reply to  SwimMom
1 year ago

I understand this frustration for Kayla, and I also am worried that Ruck won’t get back to her pre-selected form. However, it is not unfair. Every swimmer was under the same pre-selection considerations, and what would have been extremely unfair is if other swimmers were pre-selected using those standards and Ruck was not. Ruck is actually under no obligation to swim fast right now. Her spot was earned the exact same way as Penny/Maggie/Sydney/Kylie/Markus, regardless of how fast she is swimming right now.

Njones
Reply to  SwimMom
1 year ago

There is nothing political here. A very transparent, objective and sensible decision to pre select some of our top international performers given the risks and unknowns etc of the pandemic conditions a few months ago.
And it was based on 2019 worlds which were about 20 months prior to selecting.
Yes it would have been ideal to have all of them race for sports in April as planned, but….

SwimMom
Reply to  Njones
1 year ago

The selection was based on NO TRIALS occurring. They should have put in the caveat that if trials proceed, you need to swim …

Still unfair …

Taylor is not up to top form.

NJones
Reply to  SwimMom
1 year ago

Unfair is different rules for specific individuals. This was a fair and sensible as could be with the knowledge at the time.

Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago

I love you penny

Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

My prediction for women’s 4×100 free in Tokyo:

Gold: Australia

Silver: Canada

Bronze: USA/China/GBR/The Netherlands

Troyy
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Swap Canada and USA and that’s my prediction mostly because of Ruck not being at her best.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Ruck is having some illness. She’ll be fine in Tokyo.

SwimMom
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Huh? She’s no where close to top form and other swimmers are beating her … she was ‘given’ this spot based on times from 3 yrs ago. …
Excellent athlete and swimmer but not the BEST right now.

NJones
Reply to  SwimMom
1 year ago

2 years ago just like Penny and the others, 2019 worlds. Not 3. And not ‘given’… Earned like the others.

moddiddle
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Our periodic reminder that 52 flat start 100 freestylers are a huge assets for any team

SBOmega
Reply to  moddiddle
1 year ago

And it still amazes me that Australia managed to get 4 all hit that mark in their trials final

Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Don’t forget france for the bronze

Sean C.
1 year ago

I always find it kind of funny where athletes who have a rough time between Olympics get back into form right in time for the next games, so for casual fans of the sports it’s like nothing happened.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Sean C.
1 year ago

*watches 2000 and 2016 olympics and nothing else in between* wow this ervin guy is still going strong?

Justhereforfun
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
1 year ago

Funny enough if you did the same thing and said “wow this Phelps guy is still going strong?” You would actually answer “yes”

CheddaShredda
Reply to  Sean C.
1 year ago

lol murphy for sure cruised from 16 to 18. not sure if I would define it as a rough time though

Khachaturian
1 year ago

that photo is SPICY

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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