SINGAPORE – Canada opened the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships Tuesday with the silver medal in the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay.
Australia won the gold medals in seven minutes and 57.04 seconds just a half second ahead of Canada in 7:57.58. Russia was third and the U.S. fourth. The top-three all went under the world junior mark.
Swimming for Canada were Penny Oleksiak of Toronto, Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., Mary-Sophie Harvey of Montreal and Taylor Ruck, now based in Arizona.
“We knew it would be a close race against our competitors,” said Smith. “It was hard mentally going into the race because we saw how fast the other people’s times were and it motivated us to be better and get Canada on the podium.”
The juniors posted a faster time than the senior squad at the FINA World Championships in Russia, which placed 11th. Even more impressive is the fact three of the girls are just 15, the other 16.
“The result was important for us because it made us realize how fast we are as a junior team,” said Oleksiak. “It showed us that we can race really fast against teams from around the world.”
In the men’s 4×100-m freestyle relay Canada was sixth (3:20.44) with Javier Acevedo of Ajax, Ont., Markus Thormeyer of Delta, B.C., Stephen Calkins of Calgary and Carson Olafson of Chilliwack, B.C.
“We know that our time didn’t reflect our full potentials but it was still a solid time,” said Acevedo. “We came together as a team pretty well at night. We topped our strong morning relay performance and raced our heat pretty well.”
Four Canadians are headed to 100-m backstroke finals thanks to personal bests.
Ruck and Danielle Hanus of Newmarket, Ont., ranked second and fourth in the women’s semis while Thormeyer and Acevedo ranked seventh and eighth in the men’s semis.
“I felt that it was a good swim. I felt smooth the first 50 and was better in the finish than I was this morning,” said Ruck.
Hanus was also pleased with her swim.
“I am very happy with the performance,” said Hanus, who clocked a personal best 1:00.75. “I have been looking to go 1:00 for a while now and I was very please to have been able to meet my goal.”
Thormeyer feels he learned some valuable lessons for the final.
“The result was really important,” he said. “This race showed me what I needed to work on to get even better for the final. Also last junior worlds my swims weren’t as fast as I would have liked so this time around the pressure was really on for me to perform.”
Competition continues Wednesday. For full results visit Omega Timing