Canadian swimming trials: Penny Oleksiak, Brittany MacLean set records
Also meet qualifying standards for Rio Olympics
Penny Oleksiak and Brittany MacLean wanted to swim well enough at the Olympic Trials to get under the qualifying standard needed for the Rio Games.
They did just that Tuesday night and set Canadian records to boot.
MacLean took over a second off her own mark in the 400-metre freestyle while the 15-year-old Oleksiak set a new national standard in the 100-metre butterfly.
"Right now I'm still kind of in disbelief," Oleksiak said. "I feel like I'm dreaming right now. The Olympics? That's just crazy."
The Toronto swimmer finished in 56.99 seconds at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, trimming 0.28 seconds off Katerine Savard's mark from two years ago.
Noemie Thomas of Richmond, B.C., earned the other qualifying spot with a time of 57.02. Savard, from Pont-Rouge, Que., missed the cut in 57.75 despite being under the qualifying time of 58.74.
In order to be nominated for the national team that will compete at the Rio Olympics, the qualifying standard must be reached and a top-two finish is required.
MacLean, meanwhile, showed she was back in form after battling shoulder and hamstring injuries. The 22-year-old from Toronto finished in 4:03.84 to book her ticket for the Games.
She set the previous national best of 4:05.06 with a seventh-place finish at the London Olympics in 2012.
"It was an extra special bonus," MacLean said. "I really thought I was going to be able to beat my best time. It's four years coming so it was really special for me."
There was disappointment for the men as all three race winners came up short of the qualification time.
Luke Reilly of Richmond, B.C., was first in the 400-metre individual medley in 4:17.14, but was just short of the 4:16.71 time required. In the 200-metre freestyle, Markus Thormeyer of Markham, Ont., won in 1:48.17, but needed a time of 1:47.97.
Calgary's Jason Block was a whisker away in the 100-metre breaststroke. He won in 1:00.59, leaving him just two-100ths of a second away.
"Oh, she's a roller-coaster man," Block said of his emotions. "Happy to win, happy to get a best time but obviously very disappointed. Two one-hundredths of a second. It would have been a lot nicer to go five seven (1:00.57) and get my name on that team for sure."
Competition continues through Sunday. The venue also hosted last year's Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
Rivard dominates 2 para-swimming events
The Para-swimming Trials are also being held here this week but different criteria is used for nomination for the team that will compete at the Paralympics. Athletes have to wait until Sunday for the formal announcement.
Aurelie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., blew away the field in her two events — the multi-class women's 50 freestyle and the multi-class 400 freestyle. The S10 swimmer won in 28.04 seconds and took top spot in the 400 in 4:39.56, almost 35 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Nathan Stein of Maple Ridge, B.C., led the 50-metre S10 swimmers in 24.07. Veteran Benoit Huot of Longueuil, Que., who is looking to qualify for his fifth Paralympics, won the 400-metre freestyle S10 in 4:09.89.
Angela Marina of Brantford, Ont., took top spot in the women's 200-metre freestyle multi-class in 2:26.24 and Gordie Michie of St. Thomas, Ont., was first in the men's event in 2:03.66.
The Rio Olympics will be held Aug. 5-21. The Rio Paralympics are set for Sept. 7-18.