BUDAPEST, Hungary – It was billed as a development meet, but it ended up becoming an impressive medal haul for the Canadian team at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.
Canada won five medals on Sunday’s final day of competition to raise their week-long total to 12 in Budapest.
National Development Coach Ken McKinnon was pleased with the progress made by his young swimmers.
“Our measure for success here was improvement in all areas – skills, managing emotion, fitness and technique,” McKinnon said. “The results of maintaining this focus produced strong final results in the races.”
Gabe Mastromatteo, a 17-year-old native of Kenora, Ontario, recorded a silver-medal performance in the men’s 50-m breaststroke. Mastromatteo’s personal best time of 27.73 seconds was just 0.15 seconds behind Vladislav Gerasimenko of Russia. It was a team-high sixth personal best of the meet for Mastromatteo, who also leaves with two relay medals.
“It was a pretty solid swim and I am happy with the medal because I came here with a goal of winning a medal,” Mastromatteo said. “Getting a best time makes it even better.”
Meanwhile, Josh Liendo of Markham, Ont., bettered his Canadian age group record with a time of 49.17 seconds to earn silver in the 100-m free.
Mastromatteo and Liendo later joined Cole Pratt and Finlay Knox to win the bronze medal in the men’s 4×100-m medley relay in a time of 3:36.35. Tyler Wall, who swam the backstroke leg in the morning heats, will also receive a medal.
“I was proud to be part of that team because all of the guys worked hard,” said Liendo.
On the women’s side, Emma O’Croinin brought home a bronze medal in the 200-m free in a time of 1:58.64.
“It was a good race with group of fast girls so I just wanted to get in there and race it up on the last race of the season,” said O’Croinin. The Edmonton native captured silver in the 400 earlier in the week and helped the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay to bronze, the same event in which she earned medal in at senior FINA World Championships last month.
Katrina Bellio was eighth in a personal best 2:00.25, moving up from her original 16th-place seeding.
The team of Jade Hannah, Avery Wiseman, Hanna Henderson and Brooklyn Douthwright rounded out the medal haul with bronze in the women’s 4×100 medley relay. They were clocked in 4:03.17. Morning butterflyer Genevieve Sasseville will also receive a medal.
“That was a lot of fun and a new experience for me,” said Douthwright.
The 16-year-old native of Riverview, N.B., leaves with three medals after helping both the women’s 4×200 free relay and mixed medley to bronze.
“It was very professional and a lot of fun,” she said. “As far as the swimming went, the competition was good and I pushed to go as fast as I could go.
Calgary’s Cole Pratt just missed another medal for Canada, coming fourth in the men’s 200-m backstroke in a time of 1:58.93.
Henderson, of Mississauga, Ont., was fourth in the women’s 100-m butterfly in 59.06 seconds, and came sixth in the women’s 50-m freestyle with a personal best time of 25.33 seconds. Both times were personal bests – giving her five for the meet. Genevieve Sasseville, of Chatham, Ont., was seventh in 1:00.06.
Coach McKinnon said the swimmers and coaching staff were ready for the highly-competitive meet.
“The swimmers had been well-prepared by their home coaches for the final training stage,” McKinnon explained.
“The experiences gained from previous camps were evident in all training and preparation areas. Coaches were well-prepared and took an individual approach with the athletes.”
Earlier in the week, Jade Hannah won gold medals in the 100 and 200 backstroke and silver in the 50. She also helped the women’s and mixed medley relays to bronze to top the team with five medals, giving her eight for her career at this event.
Coach McKinnon said some of the top Canadian junior swimmers will continue on their path to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and others will prepare for the 2020 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
“Some who didn’t achieve their goals will use this experience to take stock and re-set their goals, adjusting their training and the personal behaviors as required,” McKinnon said.
O’Croinin, of Edmonton, Alta., said she would use her strong showing at the World Juniors to keep building momentum as she develops in the sport.
Gold (2): Jade Hannah (W100/200BK)
Silver (5): Finlay Knox (M200IM), Emma O’Croinin (W400FS), Hannah (W50BK), Gabe Mastromatteo (M50BR), Josh Liendo (M100FS)
Bronze (5): W4x200FR (O’Croinin, Brooklyn Douthwright, Katrina Bellio, Genevieve Sasseville, Hanna Henderson), Mixed 4x100MR (Hannah, Mastromatteo, Liendo, Henderson, Douthwright), O’Croinin (W200FS), M4x100MR (Cole Pratt, Mastromatteo, Liendo, Knox, Tyler Wall), W4x100MR (Hannah, Avery Wiseman, Henderson, Douthwright, Sasseville)