Oleksiak, Masse lead Canadian contingent at FINA Champions Swim Series
Invitation-only event in Indianapolis to serve as tuneup for July's world championships
All eyes are going to be on Canada's top swimmers this weekend, as Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse compete at the FINA Champions Swim Series in Indianapolis.
This isn't your regular swim meet. The world's top swimmers participate in the invitation-only event, where every race features only four swimmers. In other words, every race is a final. The swimmers receive prize money and appearance fees for showing up.
This is the third and final stop of the series. The first event was in Guangzhou, China and the second was in Budapest.
Canada will be well represented in Indianapolis, with Oleksiak and Masse each set to race three times — Oleksiak in the the 100-metre freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, with Masse in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke. Sydney Pickrem will also be swimming, taking part in the 200 individual medley.
The meet will be used as a tune-up for the world championships, which begin on July 12.
"Most world-class swimmers need a meet to challenge themselves and to simply prime the system for the upcoming major swim meet of the summer," said CBC Sports swimming analyst Byron MacDonald. "Don't need a slew of meets, just one or two strategically placed, usually four-to-six weeks out."
Oleksiak preparing for Tokyo
Oleksiak is coming off two bronze medals at the Budapest stop, in the 50 and 100 butterfly. She also finished fourth in the 100 freestyle.
In order to keep heading in the right direction toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Oleksiak needs to stay in the hunt.
"Her task is a bit tougher than some in terms of optics as her rival [Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden] has moved light years ahead of most of the world and seems to swim world-beating times every time she hits the water," said MacDonald. " So 'losing' to her is not unexpected or a bad indication of future success ... she is making positive steps forward and has lots of time to be ready for Tokyo if she can stay on her current path."
The event begins Friday night at 7 p.m. ET and will be live streamed on CBCSports.ca.
Friday's big races include Oleksiak in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. Masse will be racing in the 50 and 200 backstroke.