GWANGJU, South Korea – Canada’s Sydney Pickrem added the 200-m breaststroke to her repertoire at this year’s FINA World Championships and she produced an impressive bronze medal on Friday.
It was Canada’s sixth medal in the pool (two gold and four bronze) which ties the country’s best-ever performance set back in 1978. Adding Eric Hedlin’s 5-km open water bronze to the total makes it Canada’s most ever in swimming.
Yulia Efimova won the women’s 200-m breaststroke in two minutes and 20.17 seconds. Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa followed for silver in 2:22.52 and Pickrem collected her second bronze of the competition in 2:22.90. Kelsey Wog of Winnipeg was sixth in 2:25.14.
It was the first time Pickrem competed in the event at the world championships.
“I wanted to try as much as I could to get on the podium,” said Pickrem, also third in the 200-m individual medley this week. “It’s not the time that I wanted but it was better than semis so I’m just moving forward.
“There’s a lot of fast swimming here and that motivates you whether it’s your (main) event or not.”
Pickrem, who also won 400-m IM bronze in 2017, is the first Canadian female swimmer with three individual medals in her career.
John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high performance director, marveled at Pickrem’s ability to deliver when it counts.
“It was a great effort,” he said. “This was her first world championships in this event and she grabbed the opportunity.”
Two other Canadians were in finals.
In the women’s 100-m freestyle, co-Olympic champion Simone Manuel of the U.S. successfully defended her title out of Lane 1 clocking 52.04. Cate Campbell of Australia was second in 52.43 and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden third in 52.46.
Taylor Ruck of Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Ontario took fifth spot at 53.03.
In the men’s 200-m backstroke, Markus Thormeyer of HPC-Vancouver placed eighth in 1:58.50. Evgeny Rylov of Russia was the winner in 1:53.40.
“I’m happy with it, I wasn’t even seeded to make the final,” said Thormeyer, 17th in the prelims then fifth with a Canadian record in the semis on Thursday. “It’s an experience in the bag and I’m happy with what I’ve learned.”
Atkinson was delighted to see a Canadian male swimmer in a final.
“That was one of our goals here,” he said. “We wanted to see improvements and see our men progress from heats to semis and it was great to see Markus in his first 200 back final at worlds.”
Three Canadians will chase that pool medal record mark on Saturday night after qualifying performances in Friday’s semis.
Kylie Masse and Ruck both qualified for the women’s 200-m backstroke final ranking second and seventh in 2:06.57 and 2:08.42. Ruck swam about 15 minutes after her 100 free final. Regan Smith of the U.S. smashed the world record clocking 2:03.35.
Earlier this week, Masse successfully defended her title in the 100-m backstroke. She’ll be going for a fourth career world championship medal which would tie the Canadian record mark set by Penny Oleksiak on Thursday.
“It was pretty good,” said Masse, who trains at the University of Toronto. “I’m taking it step-by-step. It was a pretty incredible swim to be involved in. I thought I saw the board, and I was like ‘whoa’. But it’s great for her and it’s an incredibly fast time and I think it will just push the field to go faster and faster.”
Meanwhile Oleksiak will have an opportunity to stay ahead in the career medal record standings as she tied for sixth in the 50-m butterfly semis with a time of 25.93. Sjostrom was the fastest in 24.79. Margaret MacNeil, the 100 fly champion, ranked 14th and did not advance.
“The morning swim was better,” said Oleksiak, of HPC-Ontario, who clocked 25.73 in the prelims. “I’m happy I got through and I have a chance to redo it again in the final.”
In the prelims, Mackenzie Padington of Campbell River, B.C., was 18th in the women’s 800 free, Josiah Binnema of Prince George, B.C., was 24th in the men’s 100 fly, Yuri Kisil of Calgary was 25th in the men’s 50 free.
“Our team are in a good place,” said Atkinson. “They continue to progress each day and capitalize on their opportunities.”
The eight-day meet continues through Sunday at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center.
FINA TV (https://www.finatv.live/en), CBC (https://www.cbc.ca/sports/broadcast) and Radio-Canada (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/sports/horaire-diffusions) will webcast finals live at 7 a.m. ET each day, with highlights on CBC’s Road to the Olympic Games show. Viewers can download the CBC broadcast schedule to sync with smartphone calendar apps here: http://calrep.ly/2JDCwxx.
Visit www.swimming.ca for bios, profiles, preview stories and recaps, and follow Swimming Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the championships.