Another Canadian record fell and five more swimmers earned nominations to the Rio 2016 team on Day 2 of Olympic Trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Kylie Masse started the night with a bang in the women’s 100m backstroke, dropping the national record to 59.06s in beating Dominique Bouchard (59.96s) to the wall. It was the second time in just a few hours that Masse had broken the Canadian mark, swimming 59.17s in the preliminaries to take half a second off the previous standard that had stood since 2011.
“Today was definitely special,” Masse said of her double record-breaking day. “I don’t think this morning I was expecting that. So I was shocked to see what I went, but it’s kind of more incentive to go faster and see what I can do tonight. Knowing that it’s final and Olympic trials and it’s the atmosphere and the environment, it makes it even more exciting”
“I’m super stoked.”
Masse’s current record ranks her second in the world behind only Australian Emily Seebohm, the reigning Olympic silver medallist. The 2016 CIS Female Swimmer of the Year for the University of Toronto won gold in the 100m backstroke at the 2015 Universiade. Bouchard, who finished fourth in the event at the Pan Am Games, also swam below the Olympic Qualifying Time of 1:00.25, meaning they both secured tickets to Rio.
Then it was time for the teenagers to shine.
Javier Acevedo became the first man to earn an Olympic nomination at the Trials when he came close to a national record of his own in the men’s 100m backstroke. His winning time of 53.67 was just 0.04 off the mark set by Pascal Wollach in 2009 during what’s known as the “suit era”. The 18-year-old, who was Swimming Canada’s Junior Male Swimmer of the Year for 2015, was easily under the Olympic Qualifying Time of 54.36.
“This year there were a lot of things that happened in my life, to the club that I used to be at and it was tough to go through but to able to overcome that and then touch the wall first,” said Acevedo. “You know it’s been an up and down season but this has got to be one of the biggest highs of my life.”
Although young, Acevedo is not lacking in experience. He represented Canada at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships, where he showed his speed in winning silver in the 50m backstroke.
The final Olympic qualifier of the night came down to a battle of 18-year-olds as Sydney Pickrem out-touched world bronze medallist Emily Overholt to win the women’s 400m individual medley. Overholt had led through the butterfly and backstroke legs before falling back to third during the breaststroke. It was at that time that Pickrem made her move to get into the Olympic picture. She took the lead during the freestyle leg, winning in 4:38.34 while Overholt made a strong comeback in the final 50m to finish in 4:38.50. Both handily beat the Olympic Qualifying Time of 4:43.46.
“It’s been such a stressful year,” said Pickrem. “One, going to university for the first year and trying to adjust the training and everything. I was a nervous wreck, so to finally make it and finally say that I’m going to Rio is outstanding.”
While Overholt became celebrated after appearing to win and then losing 400m IM gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games due to disqualification before her worlds breakthrough, it was actually Pickrem who had captured both individual medley titles at last year’s trials. She still has the 200m IM to come, in which she made the final at the 2015 World Championships after winning bronze at the 2013 World Juniors.