Storylines to Watch at the Inaugural Canadian Swimming Open


The Speedo Canadian Swimming Open will make its debut this week, running from Wednesday through Saturday at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. 

The long course meet is many Canadian athletes’ last chance to improve their times and qualify for the 2024 Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials that are coming up in mid-May. 

With high-stakes competition kicking off tomorrow morning, below are some of the storylines to look out for at the meet. 

Olympic Gold Medalist Maggie MacNeil Looking to Fine-Tune Race Plans Before Paris

Maggie MacNeil took home the gold medal in the 100 fly at the 2021 Olympics and will look to defend her title again this summer, using the Speedo Canadian Swimming Open as a chance to see where she stands a month out of trials. 

MacNeil is listed as the top seed in the 50 free and 100 fly, and also holds the #3 seed in the 100 free and the #23 seed in the 100 back. 

Unless she has a change of heart, the Paris Games will be her last Olympic endeavor; MacNeil recently announced plans to retire after the competition. Initially planning to retire after Tokyo, MacNeil extended her career after feeling that she had missed out on certain opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MacNeil has a host of swimming achievements under her belt already. In addition to her Olympic gold, she took home a silver and a bronze medal from Tokyo, has broken two world records and has amassed countless victories and medals throughout her career from SC World Championships, LC World Championships, the Commonwealth Games, and the Pan Am Games.

MacNeil has shared hopes of attending law school after she finishes her swimming career.  

Summer McIntosh Takes on Diverse Event Line Up

All eyes will be on 17-year-old Summer McIntosh leading up to the Olympics in July after she overthrew Katie Ledecky in the 800 free at the Southern Zone Senior Championships, ending Ledecky’s 13-year undefeated streak in the event. 

Although Ledecky still holds the world record, McIntosh’s performance made her the second-fastest woman in the event and solidified her as a name to watch in the swimming world. McIntosh has primarily focused on middle distance events, but her victory over Ledecky raised questions as to whether she would take on the 800 free at the Olympics this summer. 

McIntosh is not entered in the 800 free at this meet; she is scheduled to compete in more stroke and middle distance events. McIntosh did not compete at the World Championships in Doha, so this meet offers a chance to preview certain events before solidifying a lineup heading into Canada’s Olympic Trials.

She’s swimming a lot of events that she is unlikely to swim this summer, plus the 200 IM. We can read into this two ways: either she’s trying to get fast times in events she won’t swim this summer (tipping her plan on the 200 IM), or she’s swimming races to help Canada figure out relay options. Either way, it’s exciting to see one of the world’s top young talents swimming races we don’t usually see from her at big meets.

McIntosh is the top seed in the 200 free and 200 IM, #2 seed in the 100 back, 100 free, 100 fly and 50 free and #7 seed in the 100 breast.

Nicholas Bennett Gears Up for Olympic Repeat

20-year-old Nicholas Bennett experienced a major international breakthrough in 2023, winning his first world titles at the Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester. He won the S14 200 free and the 200 IM before taking home a silver medal in the 100 breast. Bennett will be repeating these events at the Open, in addition to competing in the 50 breast. 

Born with autism, Bennett became one of Canada’s top Paralympic swimmers when he was just 15 years old; he won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 2019 Parapan American Games and made it to the finals in three events at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. He placed fifth in the 100 breast, sixth in the 200 free and seventh in the 200 IM. 

Aiming for the podium this year, how Bennett performs in Toronto will offer a preview of what to expect at the subsequent Paralympic Trials and Paralympic Games. He is the #19 seed in the 50 breast, #21 seed in the 200 IM and #28 seed in the 100 breast. Bennett will also race in the S14 200 free, in which he is the only entry. 

Penny Oleksiak Looks to Return to Racing Form

Two-time Olympian Penny Oleksiak is making a return to competitive swimming after taking some time away from the sport. The Open will mark her second major swim meet after nearly a year of not competing while battling knee and ankle injuries; she raced at the Pro Swim Series in Westmont. 

Oleksiak also recently made a training switch, joining the Mission Viejo Nadadores in southern California with Jeff Julian’s pro group. The move resulted in a reunion with former training partner and Canadian teammate Kayla Sanchez.  

Canada’s most decorated Olympian of all time, Oleksiak made her Olympic debut when she was just 16 years old. She won four medals in Rio, including a gold medal in the 100 free. She won three more medals in Tokyo, securing a silver medal as part of the 400 free relay and two bronze medals in the 200 free and 400 medley relay. 

Oleksiak is the #4 seed in the 100 free, #11 seed in the 200 free and #13 seed in the 50 free. 

Tristan Jankovics Poised for Breakthrough Heading into Trials

Ohio State University sophomore Tristan Jankovics will take on a diverse lineup at the Open as he makes final preparations heading into Canadian Olympic Trials. 

Jankovics qualified for trials in the 200 back and 400 IM in 2020 at the age of 15 but wound up not competing after the meet got postponed due to Covid. Since then, he has improved his times across the board and is now internationally ranked in multiple events. 

Jankovics was the third-fastest Canadian in the 400 IM and second-fastest in the 200 IM this year, making his chances at qualifying for the Olympic team this summer highly promising. He has talked in interviews about having his sights set on making his Olympic debut this year, making it no surprise that he will be preparing for a notable breakthrough with his event lineup at the Canadian Swimming Open. 

Jankovics is the top seed in the 400 IM and 200 back, #2 seed in the 200 IM, #3 seed in the 200 free, #5 seed in the 100 back, # 13 seed in the 200 breast and #33 seed in the 400 free.

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Bo Swims
1 month ago

Inaugural Canadian Open ? I seem to recall swimming at the Canadian Open in 1996 (@ PEPS) and 1997 (@ Etobicoke). Misty Hymen set a SCM WR in the old PEPS pool. The gun start at PEPS was like an artillery piece.

1 month ago

Penny won silver in 100 fly at Rio Olympics not the 4×200 free relay. Canada won bronze for that relay. She did win gold in 100 free, and another bronze in the 4×100 free relay.
2020 Olympics she won a silver for the 4×100 free relay and 2 more bronze medals, 200 free and 4×100 medley relay.

Last edited 1 month ago by CanuckSwimmer
1 month ago

If swimming canada was hoping this meet would compete with the pss they’ve got work to do but excited to see almost all the top Canadian swimmers show up

Reply to  NUSwimFan
1 month ago

I,m Canadian and way more interested in the Canadian open meet than the pss.

Anything but 50 BR
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Exactly. I’m really excited to see how all the Canadian stars (minus Liendo and maybe Kharun?) and rising youth swim this week. But after her 800 FR, and since she’s not raced in a while, I would still be more interested in this meet even if McIntosh was the only one here.

Bo Swims
Reply to  NUSwimFan
1 month ago

Swimmac brought a group of kids.

1 month ago

Women 100 breast should be interesting.Sophie Angus,Shona Brandon, Alexanne Lepage and Kelsey wog.Prelude to Olympic trials.

Johnson Swim school
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Josh liendo.
Will Represent

Reply to  Johnson Swim school
1 month ago

In the Women’s 100BR? Interesting development