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Swimming Canada – BARCELONA – Taylor Ruck wrapped up an impressive appearance on the European Mare Nostrum tour Thursday.

The 18-year-old earned her eighth win over the first two legs of the tour, taking the 200-m backstroke in Barcelona in 2:07.96. She also earned silver in the 100-m freestyle in 53.39, behind only Danish Olympic 50 free champion Pernille Blume (53.32).

“I was very happy with my performances. I just had so much fun, that was the main highlight, just doing well in all my races was a bonus,” she said. “I really felt it today on my last races, but I got through it, now I’m just ready to get back to training.”

Ruck’s performance came on the heels of sweeping the podium with her High Performance Centre – Ontario teammates Wednesday in the 200 free. Ruck won in 1:56.06, followed by Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., in 1:57.72 and Kayla Sanchez of Scarborough, Ont., in 1:58.49.

“That was really cool to be able to sweep the podium with my best friends,” Ruck said. “Kayla screamed when she touched the wall and saw we got 1, 2, and 3. I heard her a little bit and looked over and was like, ‘What was that?’ I looked at her, looked at the scoreboard, and realized why.”

Smith, 18, and Sanchez, 17, also both made the final of the 100 free Thursday, with Sanchez finishing fourth in 54.31 and Smith sixth in 55.35. Smith also came sixth in the 200-m butterfly in 2:13,15, ahead of Danielle Hanus of the High Performance Centre – Victoria.

Ruck also won the 50 free Wednesday in 24.68, while Sanchez was fourth in 25.09. Ruck had five golds at the first stop on the three-leg tour in Canet-en-Rousillon, France, earlier this week, on the back of her record eight-medal performance at the Commonwealth Games in April.

HPC-Ontario Head Coach Ben Titley highlighted the star-studded tour’s intense schedule of swimming, with travel between locations, as a key preparation step.

“It’s always good to go and race the best in the world and learn different things. I think just the fact they raced a lot was great. Rebecca Smith dropped into the 1:57s in her 200 freestyle whilst a little bit tired. It’s all about the process really. At Commonwealth Games Taylor Ruck had 16 swims in six days, well here the girls in six days had 18 swims, along with travel. It prepares them for multiple events at Olympics, relays and so forth.

Other Canadian finalists Wednesday were Mack Darragh of HPC-Ontario (8th in 200 fly, 1:59.39), Faith Knelson of HPC-Victoria (5th in 50 breast, 31.31) and her teammate Jade Hannah (7th in 100 back, 1:02.33).

While the HPC-Ontario group is returning to Canada, the HPC-Victoria swimmers will go on to Monte Carlo, Monaco, for the third and final two-day leg of Mare Nostrum Saturday and Sunday.

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