Emma O’Croinin and Jade Hannah showed their preparation is on pace as they each won their third events of the weekend during Sunday’s final day of the Mel Zajac Jr. International.
By Jim Morris
Both swimmers have bigger goals in mind. O’Croinin is preparing for the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, while Hannah will compete in the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Also having strong races on the meet’s final day were a pair of swimmers from the High Performance Centre – Vancouver. Markus Thormeyer broke his own meet record in winning the men’s 100-metre backstroke and Carson Olafson had his best in-season time in the 100-m freestyle, placing second. Both swimmers are on the Swimming Canada team competing at the senior world championships.
O’Croinin, a 16-year-old who trains with the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, won the 800-m freestyle in eight minutes, 42.72 seconds. She opened the meet winning the 200-m and 1,500-m freestyles Friday night, then was second in the 400-m freestyle Saturday.
“It’s good to see where you are at right now,” said O’Croinin, who will compete in the 400-m freestyle in Korea. “This is a really high level meet.
“It’s good to see where the training is at, to see if you are on the right track. It gets me excited for the summer and see what can happen.”
Danica Ludlow (University of Calgary Swim Club) was second in 8:46.77 while Katrina Bellio of Etobicoke Swimming was third in 8:50.05.
Hannah (High Performance Centre – Victoria) won the women’s 100-m backstroke in 1:00.14. She also had victories in the 200-m and 50-m backstroke.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” said the 17-year-old, who was named the top female junior swimmer at the meet. “I feel like all the hard work I put in is finally paying off.
“It’s setting me up really well for world juniors in terms of racing back-to-back events. I’m really excited about junior worlds.”
Danielle Hanus of Island Swimming was second in 1:01.82 while Annabel Crush of the U.S. junior team finished third in 1:01.99.
Thormeyer’s time of 54.42 seconds in the 100-back shaved .07 of the record he set last year.
“I’ll take it,” he said. “I just wanted to race hard and not really focus on the times.
“I’m just working on the things I know I should be better at. Hopefully this will all show up at worlds.”
Cole Pratt of Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club, another member of the world championship team, was second in 55.87 while American Ian Grum was third in 56.54.
American Cameron Auchinachie won the 100-m freestyle in 49.63 seconds. Olafson was second in 50.43 while Jeremy Bagshaw (High Performance Centre – Victoria) was third in 51.17.
Olafson was pleased with his time.
“I have trouble racing in-season sometimes, so it’s good to get to that speed,” he said. “I got lots of confidence from that race.”
The 56th annual Mel Zajac Jr. meet attracted over 800 swimmers from 81 clubs across Canada and the United States to the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre. Among the swimmers were 26 athletes participating in a pair of junior camps being held by Swimming Canada in conjunction with the meet. A stroke camp attracted 10 athletes while 16 attended the youth free relay camp.
It’s a busy summer. Beside the two world championships, Swimming Canada is sending teams to the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and the FISU Summer Universiade Games in Naples, Italy.
Martyn Wilby, Swimming Canada’s Olympic Program senior coach, said many Canadian athletes used the Zajac meet as a training session. For most, how they swam at the meet was more important than the results posted.
“It’s all about the process,” said Wilby. “There are various levels of preparation coming into the meet. It’s not an end destination. It’s just one stop on the way.”
Torri Huske of the U.S. junior team won the women’s 100-m freestyle in 55.69 seconds edging MacKenzie Padington of the Campbell River Killer Whales by 1/100ths of a second.
Luca Urlando, a 17-year-old who swims for DART from Davis, Calif., shattered the meet record in the men’s 200-m butterfly. His time of 1:54.35 sliced over three seconds off the 11-year-old meet record held by Adam Sioui. It also was the third fastest time at that distance in the world this far this year.
Dmitriy Lim (UBC Thunderbird Swim Club) was second in 2:02.81 while Robert Hill (University of Calgary Swim Club) was third in 2:03.91.
In other races:
_ Rachel Nicol of the Lethbridge Amateur Swim Club won the women’s 50-m breaststroke in 31.42 seconds.
_ American Kevin Houseman won the men’s 50-m breaststroke in 28.55 seconds while a pair of swimmers tied for second. Richard Funk of the Toronto Swim Club and Caspar Corbeau of Portland, Ore., touched in 28.65 seconds.
_ Bailey Herbert of the Langley Olympians Swim Club won the women’s 200-m butterfly in 2:17.92.
_ American Chris Wieser won the men’s 1,500-m freestyle in 15:55.25.