TOKYO – Canada’s performance at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships showcases the depth the country is building on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“With nine medals and 47 A finals or Top 8 finishes, compared to seven and 40 at the 2014 Pan Pacs, we can see some good progression compared to the same place in the quad in 2014,” said High Performance Director John Atkinson.
“Kylie Masse continues to impress, winning gold in the 100 backstroke and being awarded best performance for females at the championships. Taylor Ruck follows up her record eight-medal haul at the Commonwealth Games with a Canadian record five medals at the Pan Pacs, showing great versatility in her individual events and backing up in relays. Along with Sydney Pickrem – who sat out the Commonwealth Games in April due to school commitments – also picking up an individual silver medal in the 200 individual medley, our women’s team is well positioned,” Atkinson said.
He also pointed out the speed of the women’s relays at Pan Pacs.
“All three of the teams winning medals in the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle at Pan Pacs were faster than the winning times at the European championships,” Atkinson said. “Those two bronze medals, along with our fourth-place medley relay – where the top four teams were underneath the Pan Pacs record and would have won medals at European championships – shows what depth we’re building in the program. This depth of athletes in the women’s program is really critical to continuing our progress and staying at world level in relays. With Penny Oleksiak back in the fold next summer, and other athletes who are also improving and will be in consideration next year, this will add further depth to the program.”
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Yuri Kisil broke through with his first individual medal, bronze in the 50-m free, and Eric Hedlin added a silver in the 10-km marathon.
“This season with the emergence of men winning medals internationally such as Yuri Kisil, Markus Thormeyer at Commonwealth Games, and others making finals, it shows the start of the progression of the men’s team towards 2020 and 2024,” Atkinson said. “For example, the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay improved by 2.48 seconds since Commonwealth Games and recorded a time that was just shy of the time that relay did in the Rio Olympics to make the final.”
Atkinson said he and his high performance team will be evaluating Canada’s performance compared against other international meets such as the European Championships and Asian Games.
“Medals and finals at the Pan Pacs are great, however, we need to look at the international results from both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs in 2018 and look at how the performances rank in the world rankings to see where we’re really positioned at the end of 2018,” he said. “Maintaining world rankings in the Top 8 is critical as we move towards the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, Korea, and ultimately the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“There are still some program gaps in certain events that we will be addressing with our carded coaches when we get together in September for a planning workshop,” he said. “Along with maintaining our strengths, the program has got to develop the 400-m, 800-m and 1,500-m events in the pool and that’s an area of focus for development we have to look at over the next two years.”