Team happy with Oleksiak's return despite falling short of 50m fly, 100m free finals
22-year-old makes season debut in Barcelona after 9-month rehab from knee surgery
Penny Oleksiak's long recovery journey back to the pool is now complete.
Canada's most decorated Olympian was back in race mode early Wednesday morning in Barcelona competing at the annual Mare Nostrum event.
The 22-year-old from Toronto was unable to advance to the finals in the two events she raced in, however, her team considers it a successful return after nine months away from any competitive swimming action as she rehabilitated from knee surgery last August to repair a meniscus tear.
Oleksiak began with the 50m fly, posting a time of 27.35 which placed her 16th. Only the top-eight swimmers in the preliminaries advance to the A final.
It was then into the pool for the 100m freestyle, the same event Oleksiak won her Olympic gold medal in at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Canada's most decorated Olympian is BACK 🏊♀️🇨🇦 <br>9 months after undergoing knee surgery, Penny Oleksiak is ready to compete at the Mare Nostrum Swim Tour in Barcelona.<br><br>Catch her and many other <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TeamCanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TeamCanada</a> Olympians in the pool as part of their world championship preparations. 💦💪 <a href="https://t.co/DiplEX9LE1">pic.twitter.com/DiplEX9LE1</a>—@TeamCanada
Her opening 50m split was 27.05 before closing with a 29.03 to finish the race in a time of 56.08, also 16th.
"It was great to see Penny race for the first time this season, getting off the blocks here in Barcelona," said John Atkinson, Swimming Canada high performance director.
"She will work with her coaches to move forward as we go through the rest of this tour and build towards the summer,"
Oleksiak is entered in two more events Thursday in Barcelona, on the startlists for the 50m and 200m freestyle.
She last competed at an international competition for Canada at the world championships in Budapest last June. She won two silver medals and two bronze medals at worlds in Hungary, giving her nine career world championship medals overall, which is more than any other Canadian swimmer in history.
A group of high performance Canadian swimmers have been in Spain for a couple of weeks now taking part in a training camp ahead of the Mare Nostrum, which has three stops. Last week a handful of swimmers from Canada competed in France. A larger group is swimming this second stop in Barcelona and the final stop is in Monaco this weekend.
"This has been in the planning for about 12 months. The aim was to get a group of our high performance athletes and coaches together to train in a great location and to build a team," Atkinson said.
"To make sure they're all in a training environment where they can work with each other and strategy for the relays."
Canadians Wilm, Jansen go gold
Calgary's Ingrid Wilm continued her strong swimming on the Mare Nostrum Tour, winning gold in the 50m back in a time of 27.76.
It's the 22-year-old's third medal on the tour, after winning silver in the 50m back and then bronze in the 100m back.
WATCH | Wilm wins 50m backstroke in Barcelona:
Mary-Sophie Harvey also picked up a medal for Canada on Wednesday. The 23-year-old won silver in the 200m individual medley in a time of 2:10.63.
In the final event of the day Ella Jansen of Burlington, Ont., won gold in the 400m free. The 17-year-old stopped the clock in a time of 4:08.28.
WATCH | Jansen captures gold in 400m freestyle:
Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil finished fourth in the 50m fly in a time of 26.05. Katerine Savard placed eighth stopping the clock in a time of 26.47.
Mac Neil also competed in the 100m free final, finishing fifth in a time of 54.69. Mary-Sophie Harvey was right behind Mac Neil in sixth spot in a time of 54.77.
Javier Acevedo, 25, from Toronto placed seventh in the 100m back in a time of 55.79. Finlay Knox finished seventh in the 100m fly, stopping the clock in 53.29.
Kylie Masse was on the startlists to compete in the 50m and 200m backstroke events in Barcelona but did not swim in either races.
Taylor Ruck is recovering from a broken hand she suffered in a skateboarding accident last month. Summer McIntosh and Josh Liendo are not competing in the Mare Nostrum, electing to stay back in North America to continue their training.
A team of 31 Canadians will be competing at the world championships in late-July in Fukuoka, Japan.