Canadian swimmers surpass 20-medal mark


SYDNEY, Australia – Omar Arafa of Mississauga, Ont., and Devon Bibault of Edmonton each won gold on Sunday to cap a very successful competition for the Canadian junior team at the New South Wales swimming championships.
Canada’s 14-member national junior squad ended the competition with 23 medals (nine gold, 13 silver and a bronze) for first spot in the 17-18 age group category rankings.

In the women’s 200-metre butterfly, Bibault led at every split to win in a personal best two minutes and 13.31 seconds for her second medal of the meet.  Breanne Siwicki of Winnipeg made a late charge to finish a close second in 2:13.82 for her fourth trip to the podium. 
“This is my best event so I was really nervous for the race,” said Bibault.  “I had a really great first half and was able to hang on from there.  I was fading near the end.”
In the men’s 100-m freestyle, Arafa collected his second gold this week clocking 51.34 with Australians Elliot Long and Ben Schafer second and third respectively in 51.90 and 51.91.  Aly Abdel-Khalik of Toronto was seventh in 52.60.
“For me it was a race about perfecting my strategy,” said Arafa.  “I did it well in the morning and improved upon it again in the final.  This was very much an endurance meet and you had to be really disciplined in your preparations for each day of racing.”
Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa concluded the meet as Canada’s most successful swimmer as she added a silver in the women’s 100-m freestyle in 56.45.  She finished with five medals.  Emma McKeon of Australia took the gold in 54.11 and Ariane Mainville of Montreal was fourth in 57.35.
“It was nice to see that being in the middle of training I was able to come to a meet and do really well,” said Seltenreich-Hodgson.  “It was particularly challenging because it was a six-day meet which is two days longer than usual.”
Stefanie Schmidt of Victoria and Breanne Siwicki of Winnipeg finished 1-2 in the women’s 200-metre backstroke on Saturday as Canada marched to the podium four times.
Schmidt earned her first medal of the competition clocking a personal best two minutes and 14.30 seconds.  Siwicki notched her third silver this week finishing in 2:16.97.  Australia’s Rebecca Dungan was third in 2:19.00.
“I went out as fast as I could and got my fastest 100-m split,” said Schmidt.  “It was great to have Breanne beside me pushing me. It was definitely my front end speed that got me the win.”
Daniel Kuiack of Barrie, Ont., also joined the Canadian medal parade for the first time with silver in the men’s 200-m backstroke in a personal best 2:05.01.  The winner was Ryan Hore of Australia in 2:02.27.
“It’s awesome to get that first medal,” said Kuiack.  “I improved my best time by 1.5 seconds thanks to a better stroke count.”
Meanwhile in the men’s 1,500 freestyle Luke Reilly of Richmond, B.C., added his third silver of the meet in a personal best 15:54.02.  Jarrod Poort of Australia took the gold in 15:39.07. Alexander Hamilton of Toronto was fifth.
“I went in feeling nervous and fatigued,” said Reilly.  “The coaches though have really helped me this week with my freestyle so I had a lot of confidence.  Still I never expected to get that kind of time.”

Canadian medallists at the New South Wales swimming championships held in Sydney, Australia January 8-13:
Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, Ottawa (5): gold in 100-m breaststroke, 200-m individual medley and 400-m individual medley; silver in 200-m breaststroke and 100-m freestyle.
Breanne Siwicki, Winnipeg (4): silver in 400-m individual medley, 200-m individual medley, 200-m backstroke and 200-m butterfly.
Luke Reilly, Richmond, B.C. (3): silver in 400-m individual medley, 200-m individual medley and 1,500-m freestyle.
Omar Arafa, Mississauga, Ont. (2): gold in 100-m backstroke and 100-m freestyle.
Devon Bibault, Edmonton (2): gold in 200-m butterfly; silver in 100 butterfly.
Erin Stamp, Guelph, Ont. (2): gold in 200-m breaststroke and silver in 100-m breaststroke.
Aly Abdel-Khalik, Toronto (2): gold in 200-m freestyle and silver in 400-m freestyle.
Stephanie Schmidt, Victoria (1): gold in 200-m backstroke.
Daniel Kuiack, Barrie, Ont. (1): silver in 200-m butterfly.
Selin Ozturk, Newmarket, Ont. (1): bronze in 200-m freestyle.
Full results at:

Scott Harrigan
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