The drought is over.
Swimming in lane three at Rio’s Olympic Aquatics Centre, the team won Canada’s first medal of the Games, a bronze. The last time Canada won a medal in the event – also a bronze – was at Montreal 1976. Canada also won 4x100m freestyle relay bronze at Mexico City 1968.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” Michelle Williams, who swam in the team’s heats earlier in the day before Oleksiak was brought in for the final, told CBC after the race. “It’s so exciting for Canada to have depth and to medal for the first time in 40 years in this relay. It’s just so exciting.”
A couple of other lengthy droughts ended with the third-place finish. Canada hadn’t won a women’s swimming medal of any kind since Marianne Limpert took silver in the 200m individual medley at Atlanta 1996.
Meanwhile, Canada’s last women’s swimming relay medal was a bronze in the 4x100m medley at Seoul 1988.
“This has been building for a lot of years and our Canadian sprint program has just been going up and up,” said Williams. “It’s been culminating up to this moment at the Olympics.”
The future of Canadian swimming was certainly on display Saturday. The anchor swimmers – Ruck and Oleksiak – are both 16-years-old. They became the first athletes born in the year 2000 to win Olympic medals.
The team qualified for the 4x100m freestyle relay final earlier in the day by setting a Canadian record time of 3:33.84 in the heats. They broke that in the final with a time of 3:32.89.