TOKYO – Sydney Pickrem found redemption and Taylor Ruck tied another all-time Canadian medal record Saturday at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo.
Pickrem lowered her Canadian record to 2:09.07 to take silver in the 200-m individual medley, the event in which she was disqualified at last year’s world championships after she choked on water in the final and got out of the pool.
“After what happened last year in the 200 IM, I can consider it redeemed,” Pickrem said with a big smile moments after her race. “It was the best that I could do this week and that’s all I expect out of myself, so I’m happy with it.
“It’s been kind of a rough year being really sick and having mono earlier this year, so going into this meet I tried to have no expectations, just do the best I can for Canada. To go that time right now I’m really happy,” she added. “I’ll look at the splits later, there’s always something I can improve, but I’m happy with it.”
Pickrem swam in Lane 5 beside Japan’s Miho Teramura, who set a Pan Pacs record 2:09.86 in the morning. But it was her countrywoman Yui Ohashi who raced to victory in Lane 3 in a time of 2:08.16, cheered on by the deafening crowd at the Tatsumi International Swimming Center.
“It’s awesome with the home crowd like that,” Pickrem said. “I love racing them and it’s exciting to see them every time. We can’t communicate the best but we’re always happy to race and to have good (races) with them is just what I want to do.”
Canada continued by taking bronze in the women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay in 3:34.07. High Performance Centre – Ontario teammates Ruck, Kayla Sanchez and Rebecca Smith put Canada out in front, then Montreal’s Alexia Zevnik faced the tall task of swimming the anchor leg against Olympic champion Simone Manuel and Pan Pacs champion Cate Campbell. Campbell brought Australia home for a Pan Pacs record 3:31.58 to win, while Manuel lifted Team USA to silver in 3:33.45 and Zevnik held on for bronze ahead of Japan.
“I just wanted to go out there and give it my best for these three girls,” Zevnik said.
“Sydney Pickrem shows what she can do in the 200 IM winning a silver medal in a national record, and the women’s 4×100 freestyle team continues its progression event to event. Picking up a bronze medal in the Pan Pacs is really satisfying and something that we can build onto going into world championships next year,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
It was the fourth medal for Ruck, tying six other Canadians for the most medals at a single Pan Pacs. Medal records are nothing new for Ruck, who tied the all-time Commonwealth Games record of eight earlier this year. Canada has six medals overall at the championships, one short of the team’s total from 2014.
Canada has used the Pan Pacs as a dress rehearsal for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, from the staging camp in Wakayama on to the meet itself, which is taking place across the street from the construction site for the Olympic pool.
“Being in this city and around these amazing people has just really put a good perspective for 2020,” Pickrem said. “It’s a good motivator to make these last two years of training the best that I can.”
Pool competition wraps up 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 is webcasting finals from the pool beginning at 5 a.m. ET.
Earlier in the night Emily Overholt of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver capped a strong return to the national team with a fifth-place finish in the women’s 400-m freestyle. The 20-year-old’s time of 4:08.81 was less than a second off her personal best from 2015. It was the second top-five finish of the meet for Overholt, who missed most of 2017. She also finished fifth in the 400-m individual medley Thursday.
“I’m really happy. I think I really surprised myself this morning (4:10.58 to advance in fifth), especially coming off the 400 IM I wasn’t expecting too much, but I’m really happy with that,” said the Pan Am 400 free champion, Olympic 4×200 free relay bronze medallist and 2015 world bronze medallist in the 400 IM.
American Katie Ledecky won in 3:58.50, and Australian Ariarne Titmus became just the third woman ever under four minutes (3:59.66) for silver.
“Just being here, being on the team and getting my name in the finals is a really good first step in coming back,” Overholt said. “I just need to get back to training and enjoy the process. I’ll be better next year for sure.”
Toronto’s Kennedy Goss was eighth in 4:13.25.
Canada also had two finalists in the women’s 100-m butterfly. Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., came fourth in 58.19 while Newmarket, Ont., native Danielle Hanus of the High Performance Centre – Victoria was 8th in 59.19. Japanese teenage sensation Rikako Ikee delighted the home crowd with her second Pan Pacs record of the day, lowering it to 56.08 for the win after going 56.90 in the morning.
In the last race of the night, the men’s 4×100 free relay team of Markus Thormeyer, Yuri Kisil, Javier Acevedo and Ruslan Gaziev came fourth in 3:14.50.
“We’re bettering our times from the Commonwealth Games and even worlds last year, which is good. We’re on this upward curve leading to worlds next year and even Tokyo (2020),” said Thormeyer, who led off in a personal best 48.89.
“The men’s 4×100 freestyle team, that’s the fastest time we’ve done since the Rio (2016) Olympic Games,” Atkinson added. “With new team members coming into that team and swimming 3:14 tonight was a really great effort from a young team at the end of the meet.”
Winnipeg’s Kelsey Wog finished sixth in the women’s 200-m IM in 2:12.08.