TORONTO – Michelle Williams capitalized on home pool advantage to win the highly anticipated women’s 100-m freestyle at the 2015 Team Canada Swimming Trials on Thursday at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Williams, 24, clocked a personal best 54.21 seconds with Winnipeg’s Chantal Van Landeghem second in 54.31 to earn berths for this summer’s FINA World Championships and Pan Am Games.
‘’I’m ecstatic,’’ said Toronto’s Williams, who notched a national team berth for a second straight year. ‘’It was a thrill to go under 55 seconds and hopefully it is a sign of big things to come. To make the teams and especially compete at home internationally is a dream come true.’’
Montrealers Sandrine Mainville (54.48) and Victoria Poon (55.06) were third and fourth. Williams and Mainville train under coach Ben Titley in the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Ontario at the new facility built for the Pan Am Games.
Two more women made the FINA and Pan Am cuts in the women’s 400-m individual medley. Sydney Pickrem, who is based in Florida, grabbed a big lead on the breaststroke leg and took the gold in 4:39.26.
Pickrem battled a bug leading into the trials but was determined to not let it bother her in the pool.
‘’I had some trouble sleeping this week but I just took really good care of myself,’’ said Pickrem, who also returns to the national squad. ‘’I knew the breaststroke was where I needed to make my break tonight and that was certainly the most satisfying part of my race.’’
Emily Overholt of West Vancouver made an impressive surge on the last length to finish in 4:40.59 and also earn a spot on both teams. Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa was third in 4:46.41.
Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., and Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., were 1-2 in the 100-m breaststroke and both made the Pan Am Games standard. Paige Miller of Toronto won the 50-m backstroke.
On the men’s side, Russell Wood of Calgary broke the Canadian record in the 50-m backstroke clocking 25.13.
‘’That record eluded me a couple of times last year so it is nice to get early in the season this year,’’ he said.
Santo Condorelli in the 100-m freestyle (48.83) and Richard Funk of Edmonton in the 100-m breaststroke (1:00.44) both met the Pan Am Games standard in their victories. Luke Reilly of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver was the 400-m IM winner in 4:17.21. Funk missed the world championship standard by only 0.02 seconds.
Condorelli is the new kid in town at the meet and became the first Canadian since Brent Hayden to go under 49 seconds. The Japanese-born, Portland, Ore., raised Condorelli swims out of Los Angeles but has announced his intentions to swim for Canada internationally. His mother is from Kenora, Ont.
Earlier Thursday, Stephen Clarke was inducted into the Swimming Canada’s Circle of Excellence. Clarke anchored Canada to the bronze medal in the 4×100-m medley relay at the Barcelona Olympics with Mark Tewksbury, Jon Cleveland and Marcel Gery. He is also a two-time Pan Am Games and Commonwealth Games medallist and the first swimmer from the COBRA Swim Club in Brampton, Ont., to make the Canadian national swimming team.
Competition continues through to Saturday. Morning heats begin at 10 a.m. each day, with evening finals sessions at 6 p.m.
This week’s competition also serves as one of the test events for the upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan American Games that run from July 10-26.
For more information on the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, visit www.toronto2015.org
The next round of TORONTO 2015 Pan Am tickets will go on sale April 16.
Live results are available at https://www.swimming.ca/liveresults/2015cantrials/
Live webcast is available at: http://www.swimming.ca/2015TeamCanadaTrials