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Black flies from no expectations to world finalist

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Photo by: Rick Pelletier

Hangzhou, China – Haley Black began her first international swim meet admiring all of the veteran competitors she had looked up to for many years.

The 22-year-old Prince George, B.C., native will leave the FINA World Championships (25m) in Hangzhou, China, with renewed confidence and knowing that she belongs among the world’s best swimmers.

Black finished seventh in Friday’s 50-metre butterfly final after setting a Canadian record during her preliminary heat Wednesday at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Centre. Black, who entered the competition as the 29th seed, had no expectations for herself.

“I was not paying attention to what was on paper,” said the member of the Prince George Barracudas Swim Club, who will return to train at Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Vancouver.

“What is on paper does not matter,” she continued. “You just have to own your race and know that you have a place in the pool like everyone else and that’s what counts.”

Her time of 25.43 in the preliminary beat the previous Canadian record of 25.51, set by two-time Olympian Katerine Savard at the 2016 world short course championships in Windsor, Ont. Black said it was “pretty cool” to compete against some of the world’s top swimmers and to beat the record held by Savard, someone she has admired and respected for many years.

Black finished seventh in Friday’s final with a time of 25.75, which was 1.28 behind winner Ranomi Kromowidjojo of The Netherlands.

“Overall, I was pretty happy with the way I was able to perform, but I was not able to reach the time I wanted in the final,” Black said. “It was still a cool learning experience and I look forward to more experience in the international swimming pool.”

Head Coach Martyn Wilby was impressed with Black’s performance, considering it was her first meet against an international field. He said now that Black’s NCAA career at Auburn University has ended, the three-time All-American will continue to improve at the HPC-Vancouver.

Black made great strides to prove she can compete against some of the world’s best swimmers and the Hangzhou results should serve as a springboard to even better results in the near future, Wilby said.
“It was a positive learning experience,” Wilby.

Black was also a member of the Canadian women’s 4×50-m medley relay team with Ingrid Wilm, Sophie Angus and Aela Janvier, which finished 10th with a time of 1:49.56.