The Great Hype of the Canadian Olympic Swim Trials

On Tuesday, Canada will kick off their 2012 Olympic Swim Trials in Montreal, with the best swimmers dueling it out for spots in London.  You know it’s going to be a good meet when swimmers walk out of a faux double decker bus. will have full, from-the-deck coverage of this year’s Olympic Trials, including the meet’s own landing-page, including recaps, stories, and video highlights, so be on the look out for that.

Qualifying Criteria

The Canadian Olympic Team has slightly different qualifying criteria from the Americans. Namely, swimmers who were in the top 5 of the A Final at the 2011 World Championships can submit that time towards Olympic qualifying. That means that those like distance star Ryan Cochrane, who won’t have much competition for a spot in the 1500 at the Olympics, doesn’t have to fully taper for this meet, as it’s unlikely that two swimmers will be under his 14:44 this week (or his 3:45 in the 400 free, for that matter).

Those times will then be combined with the finals swims from this week, and the top-two under the FINA “A” standard will be headed to London. If no swimmers are under the “A” standard, then the best swimmer under the “B” standard (upon acknowledgement of FINA) would then be invited. (If only one swimmer is under the “A” standard, they would then go).

If an athlete has achieved a time outside of these Trials that could fill an open spot in an event, they can request consideration, which would be granted at the discretion of Swimming Canada.

In freestyle relays, the squads will only be taken if their cumulative times, minus 1.8 seconds for takeoffs, are equal or better to the 8th-place preliminary times from World’s. Those marks (with the 1.8 included) are:

  • Men’s 400 Free Relay – 3:17.15 (average: 49.28)
  • Men’s 800 Free Relay – 7:15.11 (average: 1:48.77)
  • Women’s 400 Free Relay – 3:41.28 (average: 55.32)
  • Women’s 800 Free Relay – 7:58.95 (average: 1:59.73)

The men’s 400 will be right on the verge of that mark, while the 800 will probably not get there. Both women’s relays should easily be in.

the top four (under the same criteria as above – the A-final of trials plus top-5 times from Worlds) will be the relay teams. A 5th-place swimmer will be taken as an alternate if they meet the following time criteria (no 6th-place swimmers will be taken):

  • Men’s 100 free – 49.12
  • Women’s 100 free – 54.87
  • Men’s 200 free – 1:48.42
  • Women’s 200 free – 1:58.93

The only relay looking at an alternate chance would be the women’s 800 free relay, where Sinead Russell could add a 5th swimmer under that time.

The medley relays will be the fastest swimmers (with no alternates selected) in each of the 100 meter distances, presuming the cumulative times are under (with 1.8 second allowance included):

  • Men’s 400 Medley Relay – 3:37.99
  • Women’s 400 Medley Relay – 4:02.70

Both medley relays should qualify.


Psych Sheets available here.
Official Trials website.
Live Results here.

(All of the important links are also available in the upper right-hand corner of all Canadian Trials posts)

Prelims begin each day at 10AM Montreal time (Eastern Standard Time – like New York)
Finals begin each day at 7 PM Montreal time (Eastern Standard Time – like New York)

In an unprecedented level of exposure, the finals of the 2012 Candian Trials will be aired live on Canada’s Sportsnet every night of the meet. Societe Radio Canada will also air a pair of 2-hour highlight shows on it’s National French Network. No word on a stream online yet.

Who to Watch

This is the biggest Olympic Trials in Canadian history, as Swimming Canada stands on a major turning-point. The program is growing, both in exposure and in success, and a good showing at this meet in front of a national audience will be huge towards continuing that growth (and maybe keeping more of their athletes training at home).

The meet will see both some long-time veterans, and some youth swimmers who are contenders for Olympic medals this summer.

Highlighting the veterans on the men’s side are freestylers: Brent Hayden on the sprints and Ryan Cochrane on the distance.

The question isn't one of qualification for Brent Hayden, rather one of headgear. Will he shave? Will he wear a cap? The last time we saw him, he was capped up for the first time in recent memory. (Photo Courtesy: ©Tim Binning/

Since the last Olympic Games, Hayden has morphed himself a bit from a 100/200 freestyler to a 50/100 guy. Though he will easily win the 50, make no mistake that his full focus for London is on the 100 (for which he has probably already assured qualification with his silver from World’s).

Cochrane is on the other end of the spectrum: he swims (and will qualify) in the 400 and the 1500 freestyles, but the 1500 is his big target. Neither of these swimmers is likely to rest much for this meet, though they’ll want to put on a good show.

World silver medallist (and 4th in Beijing) in the 200m Breaststroke, Mike Brown former retiree looks to make his return to the scene.  He will battle it out in the always-exciting-at-Canadian-trials with Scott Dickens, Warren Barnes and Stanford grad Paul Kornfeld (who are all seeded much slower than their bests).

The women’s side should have some extremely tight races, perhaps the most exciting being the two breaststroke events.  In the 200, national team veteran Martha McCabe has set the target-to-beat with her 2:24.81 from the World Championship finals, where she scored a bronze medal. The World-Record holder Annamay Pierse was actually a 2:24.7 in the semi’s of that meet (and a 2:24.10 at World Trials), but bombed the final, so she’ll have to prove her times in this meet.  Pierse is coming off of two years of battling back through illness and injury since her silver medal and world record in the 200m and is finally looking in top form again. There are some young competitors, who with big drops certainly have the ability to challenge McCabe and Pierse.  For example, eighteen year old Tera van Beilen, who now trains with McCabe and Pierse under Jozsef Nagy and seventeen year old Minnesota commit Kierra Smith, who holds the nation’s top short-course time in the event this season.  Also watch out for Jillian Tyler and nineteen year olds Tianna Rissling and Pan Am’s medalist Ashley McGregor (going to Texas A&M) to round out the field.

The 100 is even dicier, as Pierse and McCabe are not nearly as competitive in this event. Former NCAA Champion Jillian Tyler comes in as the top seed with a 1:07.28, but not too far behind her are no-fewer-than 8 swimmers who all have a shot at this top two. That includes the aforementioned Tianna Rissling (seeded at 1:07.90) McCabe and Pierse (both seeded at 1:08.10), their training partners Haylee Johnson and Tera van Beilen, McGregor, Smith and always a threat, Erica Morningstar. If you tune in for one race in this entire meet, the women’s 100 breaststroke is the way to go.

As for the remaining events, 2008 Olympic finalist Julia Wilkinson will have 5 entries (100/200 back, 100/200 free, 200 IM). She will face a much stiffer challenge across the board this year than she did the last go-around, however, where she tore up the National Record books.

In the 200 IM (where she made the final in London), she is the second seed behind Erica Morningstar, though she’ll be comfortably into that race. In the 100 back as well she’s the 2nd-seed, behind 18-year old Sinead Russell (seeded under :59.68), but there too a swim of the level she expects should also be into London.

The 200 back is a probable scratch, but the 100 and 200 freestyles will be races she’ll be looking to add more qualifications in. In that 200 free, there are 5 Canadians under two minutes, and Wilkinson is the 3rd seed. If she has a misstep in that final, it could find her out of the individual. The 100 free is similar – the veteran Victoria Poon is the top seed, with Wilkinson second; however, another young star Chantal van Landeghem is just behind Wilkinson, seeded at a 55.07.

Likely, Wilkinson will be really gunning for the 200 IM and 100 back spots, and be more focused on those freestyles for relays qualifications (which is not to say she wouldn’t still swim them individually, if the spot was earned).

There’s also going to be some great international action at this meet. One of the big stories to keep an eye on will be Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and her teammates from the Bahamas. Vanderpool-Wallace is an NCAA sprint Champion at Auburn in the United States, but internationally she has a very good chance at an Olympic medal (her best chance is in the 100 free).

But more importantly, she will be at this meet with her teammates from the Bahama’s (Ariel Weech, Alicia Lightbourne, and Alana Dillette) to try and qualify a relay for the Olympics. The plan had originally been to go to the Indianapolis Grand Prix that’s this same weekend, but after that meet filled up, they shifted their plans further north. As of right now, to qualify a 400 free relay, the target would be the Ukraine’s 3:47.60 from last year’s World Junior Champs, but the meet name alone shows they can be much better this year. A 3:46-low would have a good chance, which they’re certainly capable of with a 54-low from Vanderpool-Wallace.

Mexico will also send some swimmers to the meet to shore up their Olympic qualifications, including young backstroker Maria Gonzalez-Ramirez, who is a recent National-Record breaker.

A big group from UCLA in the states will be there, including former US National Team breaststroker Keri Hehn, as well as Canadian-trained swimmers like Israel Duran-Mata and Susana Escobar.

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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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