Canada continues relay dominance at world juniors
Swimming Canada – INDIANAPOLIS – Canada captured another relay gold in world junior record time at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships, winning the mixed 4×100-m freestyle relay Friday in Indianapolis.
The team of Ruslan Gaziev, Alexander Pratt, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak stopped the clock in 3:26.65 to defend Canada’s title in the event, taking more than a second off their previous record from the 2015 world juniors. Ruck and Oleksiak were both part of that team, along with fellow Rio 2016 Olympians Javier Acevedo and Markus Thormeyer.
It is the all-time Canadian best 10th career world junior medal for double Rio medallist Ruck, and ninth for Oleksiak, who earned four medals in Rio. Ruck’s relay leg of 52.72 – the fastest in her life – was key in moving Canada up to fourth from eighth, then Oleksiak took it home in 52.99.
“It’s really fun to get out there and be a part of a mixed relay. To get behind at the 200 and get back to get the gold was really exciting,” Oleksiak said.
Gaziev and Pratt also turned in lifetime best relay splits to keep Canada in the first half of the race.
“The mixed 4×100 free relay was our toughest challenge to win. We knew we had to have our male swimmers swim their best times or we wouldn’t have had a chance to win,” said Swimming Canada National Development Coach Ken McKinnon. “We’re really pleased with the best times from both boys, who showed up and did what they needed to do. That allowed Ruck and Oleksiak to come in and finish the job. We’re really proud of the whole team, and the way the boys handled the pressure.”
Canada has finished all three nights with a relay victory, all in world junior record time. The women’s 4×200-m freestyle got the party started Wednesday, followed by the 4×100-m mixed medley Thursday. Combined with four individual medals, Canada has a total of seven trips to the podium halfway through the six-day meet.
“It’s pretty exciting. Going into the race I was telling the guys that we needed to keep the relay gold streak that we had going,” Oleksiak added. “Hopefully for the rest of the meet we can keep getting medals.”
Earlier in Friday’s finals session, Kayla Sanchez of the High Performance Centre – Ontario captured a bronze medal in the 100-m freestyle. Sanchez, 16, raced to a 54.44 to finish on the podium behind Great Britain’s Freya Anderson and Japan’s Rikako Ikee.
“I’m so happy with my result. I just wanted to get up and swim the best I could. I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be so it’s really exciting that I went a best time,” said Sanchez. “I’m just hoping in the future I can go faster, get stronger, and train harder.”
Sanchez’s HPC – Ontario teammate Rebecca Smith finished just off the podium in fourth with a personal best of 54.63.
“It really helped having Rebecca there,” said Sanchez. “We train together every day, we’re always swimming against each other so it’s comforting knowing she’s in the heat.”
Meanwhile, Faith Knelson is going into Saturday’s 100-m breaststroke final seeded first after finishing in 1:07.51. The 15-year-old NextGen – Victoria swimmer captured a silver medal in the 50-m breaststroke on Thursday.
Markham Aquatic Club’s Ruslan Gaziev progressed to the 50-m freestyle final. The 18-year-old finished the splash-and-dash in 22.46 to qualify fifth for Saturday’s final.
In her first event of the evening, Smith qualified for the 50-m butterfly final. The Red Deer, Alta., native qualified 5th in 26.64. Mabel Zavaros missed the top eight in 11th after swimming the butterfly sprint in 27.32.
Jade Hannah of Halifax finished sixth in the 200-m backstroke. The 15-year-old who swims with NextGen – Victoria went a personal best 2:10.44.
“I’m very happy with the result. My goal was to be a 2:10. It didn’t put me on the podium but I’m still very happy with that swim.”
Hannah captured a bronze medal in Thursday’s 100-m backstroke.
“Winning a medal made it feel like there was a little more expectation on my performance today. It really pushed me to step up in heats and make it into finals tonight.”
The FINA World Junior Championships run through Monday in Indianapolis. Finals begin at 6 p.m. ET each day and will be streamed live by CBC at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/aquatics
Full results are available here/www.omegatiming.com/Competition?id=0001110100FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF&sport=AQ&year=2017
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