Taylor Ruck Splits 52.72 As Canadians Break WJR In Mixed Free Relay


For the third time in three nights, the finals session at the 2017 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships ended with the playing of the Canadian national anthem.

Armed with Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck, who have six Olympic medals between the two of them, the Canadians stormed to their third relay victory in Indianapolis in the mixed 400 freestyle event.

Ruslan Gaziev led them off in a best time of 49.99, and distance specialist Alexander Pratt had a solid 50.95 split, but they still sat 8th at the halfway mark.

Enter Taylor Ruck. Ruck “picked off teams one by one” as the commentator put it, throwing down a massive 52.72 split to move them up into 4th, just four tenths off the lead.

The Olympic gold medalist Oleksiak then did the job on the anchor, easily passing everyone with a split of 52.99 as they won gold in 3:26.65, lowering their own junior world record.

The team of Oleksiak, Ruck, Markus Thormeyer and Javier Acevedo won gold two years ago in Singapore in 3:27.71, which stood as the record until today. Oleksiak, Thormeyer and Acevedo were also apart of the team that won bronze in this event at the World Championships earlier in the summer.

Ruck’s split betters her previous best of 53.04, done in the Olympic final of the 400 free relay. The 52.72 also ties Oleksiak’s split from that relay, which is the fastest ever by a Canadian in history (though Oleksiak ended up going faster individually in Rio, as we all know). Her best time individually is 53.92, done at those 2015 championships in Singapore where she won gold over Oleksiak who took silver.

Looking at the results of the individual 100 free, the Canadians would have likely gone 1-2 had they entered it, with tonight’s winning time coming in at 53.88. Canada still had a strong showing in that event with 3rd and 4th place finishes from Kayla Sanchez and Rebecca Smith, which shows the incredible depth this Canadian women’s team has.

Ruck and Oleksiak have now been on three record-breaking relays, winning gold in the women’s 4×200 and now both of the mixed events. They’ll have the day off tomorrow with the men’s 4×200 on the schedule, but will be back in action on days 5 and 6 in the women’s 4×100 free and 4×100 medley.

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That women 4x100free relay…another junior WR will be history.


And it’s possible that the record they’ll set on Sunday will last for years to come.


The 3rd and 4th place finishers in the 100 free, plus two Olympic gold medalists (both of which could’ve won the 100). Can’t get much better than that.


I expect they will smash both the 4×100 free and 4×100 medley. The free the question is by how much and I’m expecting a fair bit. The medley will be more of a challenge but assuming they go ruck/knelson/oleksiak/smith they have best times better than 3 of the 4 splits (an argument could be made to go jade Hannah/knelson/oleksiak/ruck as well). Either way a win for sure.


Smith is a good at 100 fly so they might put her in that position as well and anchor penny


3 Different relays could realistically be used. Considering Smith went a 58.11 earlier this summer un-tapered in the 100 Fly she could be thrown in as well. Assuming everyone goes times near what they are doing this meet and their hype is continued, these could possibly be the times:

1) Ruck, Knelson, Smith, Oleksiak: 59.2, 1:07.5, 57.5, 52.9 = 3:57.10
2) Ruck, Knelson, Oleksiak, Smith: 59.2, 1:07.5, 56.9, 54.2 = 3:57.80
3) Hannah, Knelson, Oleksiak, Ruck: 59.5, 1:07.5, 56.9, 52.8 = 3:56.70

But who knows! Obviously depends on if they have events earlier that evening as well!


They should mimick the expected 2020 team which would be #3.


You forgot the option of Ruck, Knelson, Oleksiak, Sanchez. I believe Sanchez split a 53.6 in Budapest on the 400 free relay so that would be a fast anchor. I think they will probably wait and see what Smith’s individual 100 fly is and what Smith and Sanchez split on the 400 free relay.


Sanchez split 54 point something in the final of the 400 Free relay in Budapest. That wasn’t a great swim. Possibly an outlier bc she’s looked great here in Indy; marvelous form.


Smith has both the 200 Free and 100 Fly finals (assuming she makes them) in that same evening session. Ruck also has the 200 Free (which is 50 minutes before relay). Knelson has 200 Breast. Sanchez and Hannah have 50 Free.


Looking into it a bit more, I think the lineup of jade hannah/knelson/oleksiak/ruck would be the best bet (no idea if anyone is swimming that evening). Only about .4 slower on back but probably close to a second faster on free.


The Medley is going to be an interesting selection. Other than Oleksiak, every other top ranked swimmer will likely have swum earlier in the session. The 50 Free (Hannah & Sanchez), 200 Free (Ruck & Smith), 200 Breast (Knelson) and 100 Fly (Smith & Zavaros) are all being contested in the evening. The 200 Free goes 15 minutes before the relay, so one has to wonder if we’ll see Ruck or Smith in that last relay. The line up might be Hannah/Knelson/Zavaros/Oleksiak.


I’d imagine Ruck would still be swimming both considering she pulled off the 100Bk/Relay double earlier this week.


Except that Sanchez is the more consistent at the 100m freestyle between her and Smith. She’s the one who won bronze, and was also faster in Budapest, so it’s possible they’ll put Smith on butterfly in the prelims instead so that Oleksiak doesn’t need to swim in the morning at all.

Also considering the women’s 200m freestyle is not long before the medley relays (which Ruck is competing in), they might go with Hannah instead.

Really though, Canada has so many different options with the medley relay that would likely still be gold medal contenders that it’s kind of not fair to the other countries.


I think they are gonna go Hannah/Knelson/Oleksiak/Ruck, and if they want Ruck to just focus on her individual 200 free than Sanchez instead. Smith definitely won’t be in it, as she not only has 200 free but 100 fly in the evening as well. Hannah isn’t seeded highly in the 50 free so she might drop that event.


That might just be their fastest possible relay combination. Penny and Taylor seem pretty much equal in freestyle in this meet, and Jade is pretty close to Taylor’s backstroke. Penny on the other hand is by far Canada’s best butterfly swimmer of any age.


Only problem is Knelson is a 1:07 at this meet and our other girl here is a 1:12, which means we pretty much have to use Knelson in the heats if we want to rest the others. And Knelson already will have 200 breast heats and finals that day. Will be interesting to see what they do with the relay heats


Considering Kayla Sanchez was 3rd in the 100free.shouldnt it be Sanchez over smith for the free leg?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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