BUDAPEST, Hungary – Sydney Pickrem captured a fourth medal for Canada as the FINA World Championships wrapped up Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.
Pickrem earned a bronze in the women’s 400-m individual medley with a personal best time of 4:32.88 – the second-fastest in Canadian history. She vaulted on to the podium a year after her 12th-place finish in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It means the world to me. It’s the first 400 IM international level final I’ve ever made. I knew when I didn’t make the final in Rio I had so much left, so to finally be able to get in at night and give it all I’ve got, a result like that means the world,” said Pickrem, the youngest competitor in the final at age 20.
Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu delighted the Duna Arena crowd by taking gold in a championship record 4:29.33, followed by Mireia Belmonte of Spain at 4:32.17. Touching the wall in third was a feeling of relief for Pickrem, who had been ranked third entering Monday’s 200-m IM final but had to stop after 50 metres after taking on water during the butterfly leg.
“The emotions have definitely taken a toll,” Pickrem said. “It’s been a learning process, and luckily it came out the most the positive it could have. I felt like I let down Canada in the 200 IM so to be able to go out there and get on the podium means a lot.”
“Tonight we had a great performance from Sydney Pickrem getting on the podium with a bronze medal in the 400 IM,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
“Having had the disappointment of the swim earlier in the world championships, to refocus, come back tonight, perform that swim and get on the podium was fantastic for her and showed the character of what she is – a great athlete.”
Canada came close to another medal, finishing fourth in the women’s 4×100-m medley relay. The team of Kylie Masse, Kierra Smith, Penny Oleksiak and Chantal Van Landeghem combined for a time of 3:54.86.
“It was incredible. It’s been a long week so the crowd has helped bring the energy back. Definitely as a group we tried to pump each other up as much as we can, really have fun with it as much as we can and put our best foot forward,” Masse said. “We’re all super close friends and it’s really cool to be able to share that friendship and competitive spirit while all representing Canada.”
Team USA lowered its world record to 3:51.55 on the way to gold, followed by Russia (3:53.38) and Australia (3:54.29).
The Canadian team beat the national record and moved up one spot from their fifth-place performance in Rio.
“It was really fun. Any time we get to represent Canada is a great honour. We came fifth in Rio and we came fourth tonight so we’re moving in the right direction I think,” Van Landeghem said.
Earlier in the session, Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., finished eighth in the 50-m breaststroke with a time of 30.80. It was the 24-year-old from LA Swim Club’s first international final in the shorter distance. American Lilly King won in a world record 29.40.
“I’m a little disappointed. It is the second fastest I’ve ever been. Considering the big drop I had yesterday on my best, I was hoping to get a little bit closer to it,” said Nicol, who was fifth in the 100 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “It is my first final at worlds so pretty exciting nevertheless.”
Canada matched its total from the Kazan 2015 FINA World Championships with four medals. After taking all bronze in Kazan, this year’s highlight was Masse’s world-record swim to 100-m backstroke gold on Tuesday. In addition to Pickrem’s bronze, the mixed 4×100-m freestyle and medley relays also earned bronze. Canada made 17 appearances in finals, up from 16 in Kazan, with an additional 14 semifinalists, up from 10 in 2015.
“Overall from Canada at this world championships we’ve had 17 finals, which is the best since the 1978 world championships. Ten different individuals go away with a medal,” Atkinson said. “As well as that we significantly increased the number of Top 16 semifinalists. We come away with four medals and we’re always looking at what we can do next, planning for 2018 and what Commonwealth Games and the Pan Pacific Championships will bring.”
“Swimming Canada is very proud of all our athletes, coaches and staff who continue to inspire us to do better,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “Once again we broke historical records, but even more importantly, they competed with their hearts. I’m impressed and in awe of the strength and character of the team.”
Full results: http://www.omegatiming.com/Competition?id=000111010AFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF&sport=AQ&year=2017