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.”