Countries like Brazil and the United States are powerhouses when it comes to swimming, but at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Team Canada looks as though they have plenty of potential to top the medal table.
The first and last time Canada won the swimming portion of the Pan Am Games was back in 1999. There, the Canadian team won a total of 13 gold medals, three more than the United States. There’s one striking similarity between the 1999 games and the 2015 games: the fact that both games are held on Canadian soil.
Since 1999, the swimming portion of the games have largely been dominated by the United States and Brazil, however this year things look to be in favour for the Canadians.
The Canadians are sending their ‘A’ squad plus some to the games. All their best competitors will be there: Ryan Cochrane, Brittany MacLean, Audrey Lacroix, Noemie Thomas, the list goes on. As for the United States for example, they’re sending their ‘B’ squad. The Americans have the depth to do extremely well with a ‘B’ squad, however with the growth of strength on the Canadian women’s team, Canada can come up with a win.
The Brazilians are sending their ‘A’ squad except for Cesar Cielo. Their men’s team is going to be the strongest at the competition, but their women’s team is deffinitley not as strong as their Canadian and American counterparts.
The Canadians are the favourites in several events. For the sake of this argument, only gold medals will be counted since they are the deciding factor when it comes to who tops the medal table.
A Canadian swimmer is the favourite in the following events:
- Men’s 400m freestyle – Ryan Cochrane
- Men’s 1500m freestyle – Ryan Cochrane
- Women’s 100m Butterfly – Katerine Savard
- Women’s 200m Butterfly – Audrey Lacroix
- Women’s 400m Freestyle – Emily Overholt
- Women’s 200m Breaststroke – Kierra Smith/ Martha McCabe
- Women’s 100m Backstroke – Dominique Bouchard
- Women’s 200m Backstroke – Dominiqe Bouchard/ Hilary Caldwell
- Men’s 200m backstroke – Russell Wood
- Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
- Women’s 4x100m medley relay
The Brazilians are favourites in the following events:
- Men’s 100m breaststroke – Felipe Lima
- Men’s 200m breaststroke – Thiago Perieira
- Men’s 50m freestyle – Bruno Fratus
- Men’s 100m freestyle – Matheus Santana
- Men’s 200m freestyle – Nicolas Oliveira
- Men’s 200m butterfly – Leonardo De Deus
- Men’s 200m IM – Thiago Pereira
- Men’s 400m IM – Thiago Pereira
- Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay
The Americans are favourites in the following events:
- Women’s 100m freestyle – Natalie Coughlin
- Women’s 200m freestyle – Allison Schmitt
- Women’s 800m freestyle – Sierra Schmidt
- Women’s 100m breaststroke – Katie Meili
- Women’s 200m IM – Caitlin Leverenz
- Women’s 400m IM – Caitlin Leverenz
- Men’s 100m backstroke – Nick Thoman
- Men’s 100m fly – Giles Smith
- Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay
- Men’s 4x100m medley relay
- Men’s 4x200m freestyle relay
- Womens 50 free- Ariana Vanderpool-Wallace (Bahamas)
All of the results listed above are based on world rankings and past performances at international competitions. There are many events where there isn’t a strong favourite, however for the sake of this argument somebody had to be named.
According to the data above, Canada would end the games with 11 golds. Brazil would have a total of nine and the United States would have a grand total of 11 as well.
There are plenty of situations where the United States could lose ground however, leaving Canada at the top of the medal charts. In the men’s 4x100m medley relay, the Brazilians have a very solid squad. They’re faster in the breaststroke and freestyle, and almost equivalent in the fly. The difference maker is going to be the backstroke leg. Nick Thoman, who will presumably lead-off the relay, will need to create a very good lead for his team if they want to defeat the Brazilians.
Thoman will also need to step it up in the individual 100m backstroke. He’s listed above as the favourite, and that’s because he’s the 2012 Olympic silver medallist. If you look at the world rankings, the top ranked swimmer this season heading to the games is Canadian Russell Wood. If Wood can win, that means big things for the Canadian team.
The Canadians also have a chance to add more hardware with the likes of Tabitha Baumann in the 800m freestyle. Baumann is the top ranked 800m freestyler this season that is going to the games, but Sierra Schmidt was listed as the favourite simply due to the fact that she was faster than Baumann last season. The two have very close personal best times, so there’s no definite favourite in this race. Baumann could just as easily come up with the win for Canada.
Excluding those two, Brittany MacLean is for sure the best 800m freestyle swimmer at these games. She’s been recovering from injury all season, therefore there’s no saying exactly what shape she’ll be in at the competition. If she’s in good shape, this event is a lock for her and team Canada.
The women’s 200m freestyle relay is another area that Canada could take a gold over the United States. They’ve got a very strong roster with Katerine Savard, Emily Overholt, Brittany MacLean, and Alyson Ackman.
The Americans have two very strong legs with the likes of Allison Schmitt and Katie McLaughlin, however if the Canadians can have the race of their lives, there’s potential for an upset.
What is really going to effect the overall medals table are the relays. The relays can go any which way, and although there are favourites, they’re always labeled as “anything can happen” events.
There’s a reason races aren’t won on paper. The swimming portion of the Pan Am Games will run from July 14th-18th when it will be decided if team Canada will top the medal table for the second time in Pan Am Games history.