How It Works:

Swimming’s 34 medal events, second only to athletics, include both individual and relay events as well as pool and open water events.

There are four swimming styles: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. There are also medley events that incorporate all four strokes, with one stroke per each leg of equal distance. In freestyle events, competitors are permitted to use any stroke, although the crawl is generally used because it is the fastest.

Tera Van Beilen

In the pool, there are 100m and 200m events for each stroke. Freestyle has additional events over distances of 50m, 400m, 800m (women only) and 1500m (men only). The individual medley events are 200m and 400m. There are also 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relay events as well as a 4x100m medley relay. The open water events are 10km marathons.

All pool events begin with preliminary heats. In 50m, 100m and 200m events, the 16 fastest swimmers advance to the semifinals, from which the eight fastest swimmers advance to the final. In events of 400m and longer there are no semifinals, so the eight fastest swimmers (or relay teams) advance directly to the final. Swimmers are seeded according to their qualifying times so that the fastest swimmers are in the centre lanes of the pool.

Open water swimmers are allowed to use any stroke. Races begin with a mass start from a dock or pontoon and swimmers will make multiple laps of a course delineated by buoys. Swimmers can receive hydration from coaches on a feeding station pontoon during the approximately two-hour race. There is much physical contact, particularly at the start and around the turn buoys, as swimmers seek and try to maintain good race position. After swimming in packs to draft off one another, the leaders will thin out as the last lap becomes a sprint to the finish, where they must hit one of six touch pads above the water.

Brent Hayden;

Canada’s Olympic History (Pre-Rio 2016)

Canada has an impressive 43 Olympic medals in swimming, second-most among summer sports.

George Hodgson won Canada’s first two medals in swimming, gold in the 400m and 1500m freestyle at Stockholm 1912. While Canada continued to do well in swimming, another gold medal wouldn’t be won until Los Angeles 1984. Alex Baumann won both the 200m and 400m individual medley events by setting a pair of world records while Victor Davis and Anne Ottenbrite swept the 200m breaststroke events. Mark Tewksbury is Canada’s most recent Olympic swimming champion, winning the 100m backstroke at Barcelona 1992.

Davis has won the most Olympic medals of any Canadian swimmer with four, won at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988. Tom Ponting, a butterfly specialist and medley relay stalwart, is the only Canadian swimmer to win medals in three different Olympic Games (Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992).

Ryan Cochrane competes at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Aug. 4, 2015.

Ryan Cochrane competes at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Aug. 4, 2015.

After women began competing in swimming at Stockholm 1912, Elaine Tanner became Canada’s first female swimming medallist at Mexico City 1968, winning silvers in the 100m and 200m backstroke and bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Robin Corsiglia became Canada’s youngest Olympic medallist (13 years, 341 days) when the women’s 4x100m medley relay won bronze in Montreal 1976. Eight of Canada’s 11 medals at those home Games were won in the pool, including a pair of backstroke bronzes by Nancy Garapick and Cheryl Gibson and Becky Smith sharing the podium in the 400m individual medley.

Canada won three swimming medals at London 2012. Ryan Cochrane followed up his Beijing 2008 1500m freestyle bronze with a silver in the same event, while Brent Hayden won bronze for Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in the 100m freestyle. Richard Weinberger added Canada’s first Olympic open water medal, winning bronze in the 10km marathon.