Sydney Pickrem Becomes #10 Performer in History in the 200 IM After Skipping the 400 IM


Sydney Pickrem gave up the 400 IM at the Canadian Olympic Trials this week and was rewarded with a huge time drop in the 200 IM, becoming the 10th-best performer of all-time in the event and throwing her name in the ring in one of the most-crowded events ahead of the Olympic Games this summer.

Pickrem, 26, swam 2:07.68 on Sunday evening in Toronto. That knocked .88 seconds off her best time from Worlds in February and was a breakthrough after five years stuck at 2:08 since first hitting that mark in early 2019.

The difference may have been finally letting go of the 400 IM, an event where at her best from 2017 (4:32.88) she was a medal contender, but one in which she hadn’t been close to that time since.

She swam the event at the 2019, 2021, and 2023 Canadian Trials meets and scratched it many times in those years – including the 2019 SEC Championships, 2021 World Championships, 2022 World Short Course Swimming Championships, and 2023 World Championships.

While she was entered in the race pre-meet, she didn’t swim the 400 IM this week in Toronto.

Splits Comparison:

Sydney Pickrem Sydney Pickrem Sydney Pickrem Sydney Pickrem
New PB Old PB PB from 2023 PB from 2019
50m fly 27.64 27.75 27.89 28.17
100m back 32.76 32.80 32.89 32.65
150m breast 36.29 36.79 36.92 37.08
200m free 30.99 31.22 30.91 30.71
total time 2:07.68 2:08.56 2:08.61 2:08.61

What is fascinating about the splits comparison is that while her other three legs have stayed largely the same, her breaststroke has marched down substantially. The breaststroker is Pickrem’s best single stroke and her massive advantage over Canadian teammate Summer McIntosh. McIntosh split just 38.16 on that leg and Pickrem briefly took the lead going into the freestyle length.

What makes that interesting is that Pickrem was short of her bests in both breaststroke races this week. In the 100 she was very close in 1:07.27 (her best is 1:07.20), and in the 200 she was further off in 2:23.79 (her best is 2:22.63). That means she’s found a way to improve her IM breaststroke dramatically without sacrificing the other strokes, but that improvement hasn’t translated the same way to the individual breaststroke legs.

Top 12 Performers All-Time, Women’s 200 IM

  1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 2:06.12 (2014)
  2. Ariana Kukors, USA – 2:06.15 (2009)
  3. Siobhan O’Connor, Great Britain – 2:06.88 (2016)
  4. Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:06.89 (2023)
  5. Kaylee McKeown, Australia – 2:06.99 (2024)
  6. Stephanie Rice, Australia – 2:07.03 (2009)
  7. Kate Douglass, USA – 2:07.05 (2024)
  8. Alex Walsh, USA – 2:07.13 (2022)
  9. Ye Shiwen, China – 2:07.57 (2012)
  10. Sydney Pickrem, Canada – 2:07.68 (2024)
  11. Yu Yuting, China – 2:07.75 (2023)
  12. Yui Ohashi, Japan – 2:07.91 (2017)

Bold = expected medal contenders at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games

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Alison England
30 days ago

SMOC’s name is Siobhan-Marie, not Siobhan.

Viking Steve
30 days ago

I do think the WR will go down this summer but overall I now think Hosszu’s WR is underestimated. It will not be easy

Viola Smiles
1 month ago

Watch, just watch Summer crush the WR in Paris.

Former swimmer
Reply to  Viola Smiles
30 days ago

If Kate doesn’t do it I want Summer to get the WR.

"we've got a boilover!"
1 month ago

This title feels a bit sensationalized trying to draw on the narrative that Sydney “gives up/no shows/withdraws” on certain events past few years, specifically the 4IM.
This article could have simply said “Sydney becomes #10 performer 2IM” and then highlighted the insightful breast improvement without drawing in the ‘scratch’ narrative. I don’t believe Summers 4IM WR story was ‘highlighted’ by her 100 back scratch!
Time to let it go folks. Sydney had been a mainstay on Nat team for decade racing at more world level champs meets than just about anyone other than Kylie perhaps, has bravely spoken of mental health challenges, and just had the swim of her career domestically at an older age relatively speaking.
… Read more »

NornIron Swim
Reply to  "we've got a boilover!"
1 month ago

I didn’t read it like that at all.

More the fact that she’s either nore rested for the 2IM or focused her training to it instead of trying both.

The article (I think) was trying to look for some cause and effect.

1 month ago

whoever ends up winning the W 200 IM in Paris this summer will really really really earn it – it’s gonna be a tight race

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Sydney Pickrem gave up

Practice makes perfect!

50s for all 4 strokes
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

PERFECT practise makes perfect. Clearly she’s making technical improvements to her breaststroke that are allowing her to drop over .5. Well done Sydney…she didn’t give up!

Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Is this a reference to when she got out after the butterfly? Hadn’t thought about that in forever

"we've got a boilover!"
Reply to  iLikePsych
1 month ago

She literally inhaled and chocked on water, she didn’t just ‘get out’…

Steve Nolan
Reply to  iLikePsych
30 days ago

It’s just one of those things that has burrowed deep, deep into my brain.

Rick S
1 month ago

Anyone know what changes to her training Pickrem credits for her improvement in breast stroke over the past year?

Reply to  Rick S
1 month ago

She started training with the men’s team at Texas A&M under Jason Calanog, Jay Holmes, and Mike Walker.

1 month ago

Thought Ohashi missed qualifying – turns out she missed the 400 IM but made the 200

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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