SwimSwam Pulse: 52.6% Think Canadian Women Have Best Medal Hopes In Medley Relay

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which Canadian women’s relay is best positioned for success in Paris:

Question: Which Canadian women’s relay has the best medal prospects in Paris?

RESULTS

  • 4×100 medley – 52.6%
  • 4×200 free – 31.6%
  • 4×100 free – 15.8%

The Canadian women have been a perennial relay medal contender across the board for the better part of the last decade, with an impressive run of success kicking off at the 2016 Olympics in Rio when they won a pair of free relay bronzes behind the emergence of 16-year-olds Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck.

After the Canadian women were shut out of medals at the 2017 World Championships, they reached the podium in all three events in 2019, and have kept the momentum rolling into the 2020s.

Canadian Women’s Relay Performances, Major International Meets

Event 2019 World Championships 2021 Olympic Games 2022 World Championships 2023 World Championships 2024 World Championships
4×100 free Bronze Silver Silver 7th Bronze
4×200 free Bronze 4th Bronze 5th 6th
4×100 medley Bronze Bronze Bronze Bronze Bronze

The medley relay has been consistent, placing 3rd every time out behind the United States and Australia, while the free relay performances have varied, largely depending on the presence of Oleksiak, who has been injured in recent years.

Some of the podium misses in freestyle were also due to the rise of China, which won bronze in both races at the 2023 World Championships (though Canada was still only 7th in the 4×100 free and 5th in the 4×200 free).

Last week’s Canadian Olympic Trials gave us a good indication of where their relays stand in the grand scheme of things entering the Olympics. Our latest poll question asked readers which relay event they think the women have the best medal prospects in, and it was the medley relay coming on top by a wide margin.

More than 52% of voters picked the medley relay, which is headlined by defending 100 fly Olympic champion Maggie MacNeil, and former 100 back world champion Kylie Masse, who has won a medal in the event at two straight Olympics and showed her best form since Tokyo at last week’s Trials.

Oleksiak has typically been the anchor swimmer on the medley relay, though both Ruck and the versatile Summer McIntosh have filled in at times.

Oleksiak is the top candidate to assume that position in Paris after she recorded her fastest swim in two years at Trials in 53.66, though she’ll need to race the event again to get the Olympic ‘A’ cut (53.61) and race it individually at the Olympics.

Breaststroke has long been the weak link of the Canadian medley relay—though that ‘weakness’ hasn’t stopped them from winning so many consecutive medals—and though the results at Trials weren’t as promising as hoped, the winner, Sophie Angus, has proven she can step up with a 1:06-low split in the past.

The 4×200 free relay picked up 31.6% of votes, and though Oleksiak and Ruck weren’t factors in the 200 free at the Trials, McIntosh, Mary-Sophie HarveyJulie Brousseau and Emma O’Croinin were impressive and form a strong quartet that will be in the medal hunt. The Australians are the favorites, and the U.S. should be right there, but Canada will vie for a spot on the podium, with China being a bit of a wild card.

The 4×100 free relay prospects have dimmed in recent years, though a full-powered team of Olekisak, Ruck, McIntosh and MacNeil could snag the bronze medal depending on how the teams behind Australia and the United States are going. It is telling that no one was under the ‘A’ cut in the 100 free at the Trials, though neither McIntosh or MacNeil was in the field.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: What do you make of Aussie swimmers and organizations (such as Queensland Swimming) going to bat for Gina Rinehart in the painting controversy:

Should Australian swimmers and organizations be involved in protesting the removal of the controversial Gina Rinehart painting?

View Results

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The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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Peter
26 days ago

For starters. China should be banned from Paris

Swimmer
Reply to  Peter
26 days ago

In your dreams, your propaganda’s not working so well on the world stage.

han qihao
Reply to  Peter
26 days ago

Everything should pay attention to evidence, you have no evidence, can not stop others because you are happy or unhappy

Eli
27 days ago

It’s funny cause on paper, Canada’s 4×200 Free Relay looks so elite. McIntosh 1:53.6, Ruck 1:54.4, Oleksiak 1:54.7, Harvey 1:55.4. I know it’s unlikely that Ruck and Oleksiak are going to be in 1:54 form, but just imagine how awesome it would be if the stars aligned

Summer in Paris
Reply to  Eli
26 days ago

When did the last time Ruck and Oleksiak swim those times?

Sub13
Reply to  Eli
26 days ago

Even on paper they don’t though. “On paper” usually means like reasonably recent times. You can’t use PBs from years ago when the swimmers haven’t been anywhere near since

swim observer
27 days ago

Devin@CBC just reported that Rick Bishop (MacNeil’s coach) cannot attend due to “personal reasons” and also that Swimming Canada says it worked on a solution “acceptable for all”.

Bob
27 days ago

Waiting on Junior Pan Pacs team.Trials are over, what can the delay be?

Bo Swims
Reply to  Bob
26 days ago

Some of the graduating kids are declining Canberra due to US schools starring early

CuriousGeorge
Reply to  Bo Swims
26 days ago

When do they start school in Canada?

North Sea
Reply to  CuriousGeorge
26 days ago

Usually, after Labour Day in early September.

han qihao
27 days ago

The relay aims to break the Asian record of 3:52.19 set at the 2009 World Championships, as breaststroke is China’s strongest stroke in Paris. China’s only weakness now is the backstroke, which China last won an Olympic medal in 2008

Kudzai Makova
Reply to  han qihao
27 days ago

Who won China’s backstroke medal in 2008? On the women’s backstroke events in 2008 the medallists were:
100m
1.Coughlin
2.Coventry
3.Hoelzer

200m
1.Coventry
2. Hoelzer
3.Nakamura (Japan!)

han qihao
Reply to  Kudzai Makova
26 days ago

I’m talking about the relay, not the women’s 100-meter backstroke

Gsysgecshfjfve
Reply to  han qihao
27 days ago

Chinese men have a much better chance of winning relays than the women

Rafael
Reply to  Gsysgecshfjfve
27 days ago

Winning Gold yes.. but China is now clear favorite for Bronze on both free relays and depending on Australia Breaststroke they would be favorite for Silver on Women Medley. Also they are currently the favorite for Mixed Medley

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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