TOKYO – Taylor Ruck got Canada off to a golden start at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo, beating American superstar Katie Ledecky to win the women’s 200-m freestyle.
Ruck’s time of 1:54.44 was the fastest ever at a Pan Pacs, and set a new Commonwealth record. Ruck led the whole way, holding off Ledecky (bronze, 1:55.15) and a late charge from Japanese favourite and fellow 18-year-old Rikako Ikee (silver, Japanese record 1:54.85).
“It went better than according to plan,” Ruck said. “Just racing Katie is so amazing, she’s one of my main inspirations for swimming.
“I did (see Ikee) on the last 50 so I just tried to go all out.”
Ruck’s High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Kayla Sanchez came fifth in 1:57.23, her second personal best of the day.
Canada also had two finalists in the women’s 400-m individual medley. Emily Overholt of West Vancouver finished fifth in her return to the national team with a time of 4:39.48.
“I was really excited. This morning I was really happy with my swim and happy to be back in the finals. I’m not super happy with my time tonight but I’m just really happy to be back swimming here and it’s been a lot of fun,” Overholt said. “My coach said to me before my races just to soak it all in and have fun so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Overholt’s High Performance Centre – Vancouver teammate Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa came sixth in 4:40.22.
Canada capped the night with a fourth-place finish in the first-ever mixed medley relay at Pan Pacs. The team of Danielle Hanus, Richard Funk, Josiah Binnema and Alexia Zevnik combined for a time of 3:46.75 behind Australia (3:38.91), Japan (Japanese record 3:40.98), and Team USA (3:41.74).
“We knew it was going to be a tough race against some really unbelievable teams. Not to say we’re not a good team, but we knew it was going to be tough. We just had to stay in our lane and swim our own races,” said Funk. The national team veteran from Edmonton came eighth in the men’s 100-m breaststroke earlier in the night in 1:00.62.
Pool competition runs through Sunday, with open water competition set for Tuesday at the high-level international championships, which feature charter nations Canada, the United States, Australia, and host Japan as well as other invited nations. Canada will host the 14thth Pan Pacs in 2022
CBC Sports will be webcasting finals from the pool beginning at 5 a.m. ET each day.
Mackenzie Padington of the High Performance Centre – Victoria opened the night for Canada by finishing sixth in the women’s 800-m freestyle in 8:34.49.
“There’s a lot of positives, and some negatives that I took out of it,” said the native of Campbell River, B.C., who swims the 400-m, 1,500-m, and 10-km open water marathon later in the meet. “It was really exciting to start the meet off. This was my first international final so I did the best that I could and I think I represented our country well so I’m happy with that.”
Kate Sanderson took eighth in 8:43.99.
Meanwhile Victoria’s Eric Hedlin was sixth in the men’s 1,500-m free in 15:07.18. Hedlin is also gearing up for open water competition.
“For how I’ve been training, which is full 10-km preparation, I feel pretty happy about that,” he said.
Fellow Victorian Peter Brothers of University of Calgary came eighth in 15:41,63.
Winnipeg’s Kelsey Wog was seventh in the women’s 100-m breaststroke in a personal best 1:07.91.
“I’m really happy to break 1:08 and it was awesome swimming in a final with all these amazing swimmers,” said the University of Manitoba swimmer, who also has the 200-m individual medley and 200-m breaststroke on her program.
Tristan Cote of Etobicoke, Ont./University of Calgary came eighth in the men’s 400-m IM in 4:21.72.