2016 SPEEDO EASTERN CANADIAN OPEN PREVIEW
Plenty of Canada’s Olympic hopefuls will be heading to Montréal Thursday to compete at the 2016 Speedo Eastern Canadian Open.
High Performance Centre – Toronto coach Ben Titley will be sending his whole squad with the exception of Audrey Lacroix to compete at the meet, including new member Richard Funk who’s in a position to dominate all three breaststroke disciplines.
Funk is the only male member of Canada’s 2015 World Championship team that will be in attendance at the meet, however international stars such as Marcelo Chierighini should make things interesting. Chierighini, who had an incredible career at Auburn, won three medals at the 2015 Pan American Games including an individual bronze in the 100m freestyle. He’ll be competing in both the 50 and 100m freestyles against Canadian Pan American team member Karl Krug.
On the women’s side there will be five World Championship swimmers competing, adding plenty of hype to the competition.
Chantal VanLandeghem, Michelle Williams, and Sandrine Mainville from the HPC – Toronto will all be competing along with Victoria Poon and world-class butterfly swimmer Katerine Savard.
In both the 50 and 100m freestyles, all five swimmers are entered and will get the chance to square off in what will likely be the two most exciting events of the weekend. Add World Junior Championship medallist Penny Oleksiak into the mix and both races gets even more competitive.
The 100m freestyle will be one of the biggest tests heading into Canadian trials in April. With so many top competitors vying for a spot on Canada’s 4x100m freestyle relay, including Taylor Ruck who’s training in Scottsdale, this event will give a picture of who might finish top four in the event at Canadian Trials.
While Victoria Poon is absent from the 50m fly, all the other girls including Oleksiak will be competing in that event. Katerine Savard is the favourite to win in that race, but will have young Oleksiak right on her tail.
Oleksiak, who’s go-to stroke after freestyle is butterfly, will also be facing off against Savard in the 100m butterfly and the 200m freestyle. With Savard opting out of the 200 fly, it’s Oleksiak’s race to win.
Oleksiak won’t be the only swimmer from the 2015 World Junior Championship team present at the meet. The meet will be filled with young rising talent as 11 of the 19 swimmers who participated at last summer’s meet in Singapore will be in Montréal.
Javier Acevedo, representing the Markham Aquatic Club, is seeded first in the 100m backstroke. He’ll also be competing in the 50 and 200m backstrokes as well as several freestyle events. He’ll be up against top seed, Samuel Belanger in the 200m freestyle.
Etobicoke’s Olivia Anderson is seeded first in the 400, 800, and 1500m freestyles and should be one to watch as a rising distance star on the Canadian scene.
Another Etobicoke swimmer, Meryn McCann, is seeded first in the 200m backstroke. She’ll need to battle Danielle Hanus from Newmarket if she wants to take home the gold medal. Hanus is the top seed in both the 50 and 100m backstrokes.
Tessa Cieplucha of Oakville and Etienne Paquin-Fois are the top seeds in the women’s and men’s 400m IMs respectively. Paquin-Fois is also the top seed in the men’s 200m IM
With a good mix of Canada’s current and rising stars, this meet, along with the Speedo Western Canadian Open, will set the tone heading into Canadian Trials in April at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.