Sydney Pickrem holds up a silver medal for the cameraSwimming Canada/Ian MacNicol
Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol

Sydney Pickrem swims to 200m IM silver at World Aquatics Championships

Sydney Pickrem made a triumphant return to the podium at the World Aquatics Championships, swimming to silver in the women’s 200m individual medley on Monday in Doha, Qatar.

Pickrem clocked a personal best time of 2 minutes 8.56 seconds in the final. She touched the wall only behind American Kate Douglass, who won her second straight world title in the event in 2:07.05. China’s Yu Yiting was almost half a second back of Pickrem for the bronze. Another Canadian, 19-year-old Ashley McMillan, finished eighth after reaching the final in her senior world championship debut.

Pickrem had been outside of a podium position through the first two legs of butterfly and backstroke. But with a strong breaststroke leg, she moved herself into second place and held onto that through the final 50 metres of freestyle.

The silver is Pickrem’s fifth career medal at the long course worlds, but her first since 2019 when she won a trio of bronze medals, including one in the 200m IM. That year she also won bronze in the 200m breaststroke and as a member of the 4x100m medley relay team. Pickrem previously won bronze in the 400m IM at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships.

A two-time Olympian, Pickrem last competed at the World Aquatics Championships in 2022 where she finished 11th in the 200m IM. She opted out of competing at the 2023 Worlds to focus on her mental health. After several months away from competition and having re-discovered her love of swimming, Pickrem won two gold medals at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games this past fall, earning victories in the 200m IM and 200m breaststroke.

Sydney Pickrem swims breaststroke towards the camera
Sydney Pickrem of Canada competes in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

“Some days are harder than others. I had to pull out of Fukuoka (2023 World Championships) for a lot of reasons, mentally I just wasn’t there. I really wanted to be at the stage with people like this, watching it from home was hard,” Pickrem said in a post-race interview on the pool deck.

“So I knew I wanted to get back on this stage and just race the best I can. Me and Kate, even though we don’t seem to race that much in the States, I was excited to get the chance to race her and everyone here because this field is so deep nowadays. It’s really exciting and I can’t believe somehow at 26 I’m the old person now!”

Monday was the second day of competition in the swimming pool in Doha. Canada won its first medal on Sunday in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Rebecca Smith, Sarah Fournier, Katerine Savard and Taylor Ruck (along with Ella Jansen who swam in prelims) earned the bronze medal behind the Netherlands and Australia.

The World Aquatics Championships continue through Sunday. Canadians will be watching the women’s 100m backstroke final on Tuesday. Ingrid Wilm was second fastest in the semifinals.