Swimming Canada announced the nomination of six swimmers to its 2021 Olympic team on Friday, along with a shift in both the dates and format of the upcoming Olympic Trials.
The Trials will now move to May 24-28, and an invitational meet will follow June 21-23, with Olympic nominations to be made after both events.
SIX SWIMMERS NOMINATED TO OLYMPIC TEAM
Individual 2019 World Championship medalists Kylie Masse, Maggie MacNeil and Sydney Pickrem have been nominated by Swimming Canada to the Canadian Olympic team, as have Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck and Markus Thormeyer, all of whom made an individual final in Gwangju.
Masse has been named in both the women’s 100 and 200 backstroke, having won gold and bronze in those events in 2019, while MacNeil gets the nod in the women’s 100 butterfly as the reigning world champion. Pickrem has been nominated in three events: the women’s 200 breaststroke and 200 IM, where she was the World Championship bronze medalist, along with the 400 IM where she finished fourth.
Oleksiak has been nominated in the women’s 200 free (sixth at Worlds), Ruck in the women’s 100 free (fifth at Worlds), and Thormeyer in the men’s 200 back (eighth at Worlds).
This marks the first Olympic team for MacNeil, while it will be the second appearance for the other five, who were all present in Rio.
Swimmers Nominated To Canadian Olympic Team
- Kylie Masse – women’s 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke
- Maggie MacNeil – women’s 100 butterfly
- Sydney Pickrem – women’s 200 breaststroke, 200 IM, 400 IM
- Penny Oleksiak – women’s 200 freestyle
- Taylor Ruck – women’s 100 freestyle
- Markus Thormeyer – men’s 200 backstroke
“It’s definitely a different way to be named to the Olympic team, but it’s still exciting,” said Masse, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s 100 back. “It’s been a challenging year so it’s nice to have a little bit of certainty in a time of so much uncertainty.
“And moving forward, it just allows us more flexibility with our training. It kind of takes that pressure off. It just gives us a little more time to train and try and be the best we possibly can at the end of the summer.”
These swimmers will have the opportunity to add events to their Olympic program in the following months.
“These are our real world performers,” said High Performance Director John Atkinson during media availability on Friday. “We have great faith in these athlete’s ability. They are already proven at the international level, they are international medalists.
“What we feel this will give our key world performers is some certainty in a very uncertain world. It will give them the opportunity to prepare for these events through to the Games in Japan, starting on the 23rd of July. It will give them the opportunity to real use the competitions that we can organize now to fine tune, prepare the things they would normally do in all the competitions that are normally around.”
TRIALS MOVED TO MAY, JUNE INVITATIONAL ADDED
After announcing in December that the Olympic Trials in April would be a timed final meet with only 20 swimmers invited per event, Swimming Canada has moved the meet back seven weeks.
The previously scheduled April 7-11 Trials will now take place May 24-28, still at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) in Toronto, following the same competition format.
“That Trials will be done exactly the same way (as was scheduled in April),” said Atkinson.
However, these Trials will now not have any automatic qualification based on performance. Instead, the Swimming Canada selection committee will meet after the competition and nominate certain athletes in certain event based on the performances.
Following that, there will be another invitational meet June 21-23 where more athletes will have the opportunity to race and give themselves a chance to be nominated for the Games. The hope is to have the meet feature both prelims and finals.
Following this meet, the final round of selections for the Olympic team will be made.
“In terms of nominations from May, that could happen,” said Atkinson on the altered selection process. “There could also be some events held over until June.”
Atkinson also anticipates a relatively regular-sized Olympic team, somewhere in the 22-26 swimmer range, despite the change in qualifying procedure. In 2016, Canada sent 28 swimmers to the Games.
“This year what we wanted to do was hold out a little bit, not box ourselves into decision that could impact any of the athletes abilities to perform and show what they can do. So that’s a decision that when the selectors and I convene in May, and then in June, there will be more to follow post both events. And I’m sure there will be nominations post both events.”
Congrats on the swimmers for being named to the team (esp. MacNeil making her first team).
Wonder how the two qualifying meets compare in size. Will most of the qualifiers come from the May meet with the conditions on swimmers accepting invites? How many swimmers can compete in the June meet?
And just a side note~ every woman who gets on a relay has a huge chance of an Olympic medal, some would say almost guaranteed. So there is a lot to swim for, right down to number six in some events!
Canada is pretty much a lock in the 400 free relay and the medley relay, but their 800 free relay might very well finish 4th behind China (and USA/Australia). I think if some girl can get down to 54.0 (100 free) and 1:57.5 (200 free), she might very well win 3 medals (as a prelims swimmer in all 3 relays), so for some girls who used to focus more on the 400 free or 100 fly, it might make sense to change focus. I wonder whether it actually has a positive effect for a country when you know that you are almost guaranteed a medal if you get on the relay. On the one hand it probably improves the depth,… Read more »
Their 800 could also win. They finished 2.5 sec beyond the Aussies in 2019 with Taylor going about 2.2 slower than her 2018 speed (1st year college, etc). So insert 2018 Taylor and you’ve got Penny going stroke for stroke down the final 50 with US and AUS… Their depth in the 3 thru 6 spots is piling up with of course Kayla and Emily from the 2019 final, and Rebecca Smith going 152 short this fall, plus a couple other youngsters who’ve been 157 long.
They were winning the 400 thru 300m in 2019 with rookie Maggie diving in between Simone and Cate C. She raced very admirably in that pressure position. Those girls at 19-18-19-19 were/are at least… Read more »
5 girls vs. 1 boy deserving sich nomination proves once again that there is something seriously wrong with male swimming in Canada. There is absolutely no natural biological reason for such disparity for such a long time. Provincial and national swimming governmental bodies are systematically doing something wrong not being able to develop to full potential good male swimming talents in Canada
Canadian men have done better than Canadian women at open water swimming for awhile so that balances it out a bit.
Thanks for finding something positive. But it’s only 2 events vs. about 20
It’s a tough sport to get age group boys to commit to high school training demands, to carry on thru university and so on. Unless you’re Hayden or Cochrane level very little financially (for them as well) and so many other sports with easier pathways to adult age opportunities. I don’t have any ez answers. Maybe something like the ISL will help provide some other opportunities outside of grinding it away just for National options.
I think it might be as simple as peak performance ages. For the most part, women can be elite on the world stage much earlier (16 years old as we saw Penny and Taylor) than men (generally need to be early 20’s, and ideally mid-late 20s for peak. But there isn’t enough financial support to keep most males in the sport in the post university/college years. The age 25+ elite Canadian male group is pretty small: Kisil, Funk, Bagshaw, Darragh, Cote. That’s about it, and throw Hayden in there I guess even though he’s a decade older. And even out of the guys I mentioned, most are barely at the ‘A’ standard. If there was a way to make better… Read more »
Yes I remember another commentator pointing this out a while ago, especially regarding Canadian male swimmers. Let’s hope things improve for them in the future.
I think there are tons of countries with an “imbalance” like that. GB has multiple medal contenders on the men’s side, but noone on the women’s side. Russia only has one “lock” for a medal on the women’s side (Efimova), but lots of medal contenders on the men’s side. Brazil always has been pretty good on the men’s side, but very poor on the women’s side. History also shows that it can change (quite quickly). GB used to be much better on the women’s side (than the men’s side) and the same is true for Russia. Currently there are only 4 or 5 nations with at least 3 medal contenders on both sides (USA, Australia, China, Japan and maybe Italy).… Read more »
Maybe it’s because all Canadian boys want to play hockey so the majority of sports talent end up there?
Not sure if it’s good moved. Taking out pressure from the five swimmers and putting pressures on the many swimmers. Seems the essence of the Olympic trials is gone. I hope the rest of the swimmers will have a heart to take this.
These top 6 swimmers were never concerned about “pressure” about making team, most are pushing for podium at Olympics and that “pressure” remains. This gives them the opportunity to focus on training without being concerned about uncontrollable covid interruptions. And yes all others attending trials will still have pressure to make team as expected and unchanged from original plan. If any swimmer loses “heart” from this top 6 decision then that is a very poor choice on their part. All events are still open for 1 spot and many 2, especially for men.
All off the swimmers chosen were essentially guaranteed to make those events possibly with an exception of Sydney in the 200 Br maybe… (slim chance that Wog and Smith both beat her). But if you look at there times in those events it’s hard to argue a case against there selection.
Maggie- being world champ in 100fly
Penny- potential to medal in multiple events
Taylor- one of 2 sub 53 100 freestyler’s in Canada, top in the world in multiple events
Kylie- former world record holder and world champ
Sydney- multiple medals on the world stage is multiple events
Markus- Canadian record holder, only man to make a final. Top in the country in… Read more »
The ‘essence’ of trials went out the window last March with the first major closures!
Agree with the replies, these 6 plus a couple more women to fill out relays are going to challenge for the podium, even to win and challenge world records potentially (Maggie, women’s relays). Their selection now is/was a great decision. Still plenty of opportunities for many swimmers who outside of a few (Wog, Overholt etc) will challenge for semis and the odd final at best. And a further last chance opportunity in June of any events are still open. Very fair and well thought under the circumstances.
Isn’t it also great though that the Canadian women are so strong in some events, ie 200… Read more »
Just to make it clear, I don’t have anything against the selected swimmers. Exactly who I thought would make it to Olympic. I just hope it won’t backfire in terms of mental health of all swimmers.
The remaining swimmers invited to trials and quite frankly all swimmers in Canada should have the utmost respect and support for these selected 6 and fully understand why they were named to team today – because they earned it by separating themselves from the pack and SNC feels it’s in their best interest to be nominated now to best prepare to represent our country during these unprecedented times.
Agree 100% if confirmed that there will no trials at all….
Agree 100% trials or no trials based on current conditions.
Kinda disagree … the other ‘top’ swimmers aren’t even listed here … Josh Lienfo, Kayla Sanchez, Wog … think this list is premature.
SNC stated only 1 swimmer/event can be provisionally nominated based on 2019 Worlds results (Taylor was 5th and Penny scratched event).
Member when SNC first announced the Trials dates, people complained they were too early and SNC defended them by saying they wanted to give exact dates well in advance so athletes could plan and prepare? I ‘member.
And then Ontario spiked in cases…..
I think that was the right course because now we Canadian coaches at least know where the goal post is even if they move it.
Great for the athletes, but this is not the purpose of the Olympics. At some point there will be no trials and countries will just send all the swimmers by picking from results of 2019
Lots of countries already do this for every Olympics…
We are in a pandemic. Other countries have also done this like the UK. These athletes have earned this preselection spot and now they can put their heads down, train and aim for the podium for Canada. It also protects them from any future Covid incidents/ mandatory quarantines which is great. Congrats to all of them! Many sports/countries preselect athletes outside of 1 trials event (ie the previous years worlds results) which in many ways makes a lot of sense.
Tell that to the swimmers who have been working so hard for the past two years and would make the team but now might not even get a shot to go
There is still 1 spot open in each event where there was a preselection. So go for it!
These 1st 6 as head coach mentioned are absolute proven international performers and in this given year absolutely deserve this pre-lim selection. Other years SNC would have this clause anyways, not necessarily for finalists but certainly for winners, so Masse and MacNeil would get that nod. This is the best of all worlds under the situation:
a) the top end as above are selected and now can not worry about quarentines or other
b) the next set of 20 or so possible qualifiers will have their shot in May from the list of top swimmers past 18months.
c) any up and comers who may have otherwise not been on the radar just yet still have a shot… Read more »
Yes. I completely agree with you if you look at my posts above. Maybe your reply was meant for swimfin5?
Yes…:) sorry, sometime I reply under the thread, assuming its all for the 1st comment.
Np! And again I completely agree with you!
Six people is only part of the full 32 member (I believe but Canada won’t max out like the US) so no, this does not take away spots from other swimmers, they can still qualify. This is standard practice for many NGB (some even have 5 or more clauses for qualifying)
Only larger countries with larger bodies of sportsmen and women in a particular sport actually hold their own “trials” – USA track and swimming, Can swimming, Aus swimming and many others, but that is actually the not the norm. If you do not have critical mass of numbers and actual competition, then a trials doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe Sarah Sjostrom qualifies for Sweden on a 1-shot Swedish trials.
Larger countries- that would be Canada at number 2 .
Population large, not land and tundra large
Which still makes it the 2nd largest country . 38 million ppl is in the top 40 also.
This isn’t really anything new. Anne Ottenbrite was injured and didn’t swim at Canadian Trials in 1984. Mark Tewksbury was an automatic on to the Canadian team in 1992. Vladimir Salnikov was added to the Russian team late in 1988. And what do they all have in common? They all won Gold.
Most countries don’t have the luxury to take the next in line if the favorite falters. In fact most countries can’t muster 2 swimmers per event under the FINA standard.
In the case of these 6 swimmers if they falter nobody is going to replace them, it will just be a blank entry.
why many countries are not accepting international athletes in their nationals ?
If you were a national federation, and you were told “you can have X number of participants,” would you be inclined to give those spots to the members that you’re being funded to serve, or to athletes that will represent other federations?