BUDAPEST, Hungary – Canada picked up its third medal of the FINA World Championships Saturday, earning bronze in the mixed 4×100-metre freestyle relay in Budapest, Hungary.
The team of Yuri Kisil, Javier Acevedo, Chantal Van Landeghem and Penny Oleksiak set a Canadian record of 3:23.55 to take third place. The United States broke their own world record to win in 3:19.60, followed by the Netherlands in a European record 3:21.81. It’s the second medal of the championships for all four swimmers, who were part of the mixed 4×100-m medley relay bronze Wednesday. Markus Thormeyer and Sandrine Mainville, who swam alongside Kisil and Van Landeghem in the morning heat to qualify for the final, will also receive medals.
“I love it, it’s the most exciting event in my eyes. You never know who’s going to win until they touch the wall, so it’s pretty cool. With guys and girls racing each other, there can be a huge lead and all of a sudden that lead can just drop,” said Kisil, who started Canada off in third, after having closed out the mixed relay bronze Wednesday.
“It’s awesome, I love doing both positions, anchor and lead-off,” said the 21-year-old Calgary native, who trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Vancouver. “My job there was to get our team to the wall Top 3 which I did so I was happy with it. Anytime we can get on the podium it means a lot and it’s great for Canada.”
Canada sat seventh in the close race after Acevedo’s leg, then Van Landeghem brought them back to fourth to set up Oleksiak as the anchor. The 17-year-old quadruple Olympic medallist passed Evelin Verraszto of the host Hungarians for bronze.
“I just went out there and tried to do the best I could to try to give Penny a chance to get us on the podium,” said Van Landeghem, a 23-year-old Winnipeg native who trains with Oleksiak at the High Performance Centre – Ontario. “It was a lot of fun to race with these guys tonight.”
Acevedo was doubling up after his 50-m backstroke semifinal, which had finished about 20 minutes earlier.
“The double was a quick turnaround so I was happy with it. It was difficult but I’ve done a lot of work in my training to be able to do that kind of stuff,” Acevedo said. “I just had to work hard and get through it.
The 19-year-old from Scarborough, Ont., pointed out the relay was mixed in more ways than one. The team combined Canada’s gold-medal team from the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships, where Acevedo and Oleksiak helped set a world junior record, along with the bronze-medal senior team from the 2015 worlds in Kazan, where Kisil and Van Landeghem were part of the previous Canadian mark.
“We had our world junior 4×100 mixed free and our senior one from 2015 both combined, that was kind of surreal,” Acevedo said. “That’s awesome having the past with now the present.”
“Great finish to the night holding on to the medal in the mixed freestyle relay from Kazan,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “The athletes stood up really well and we’re now at a point where we have nine swimmers on the team that have won a medal so far at this world championships.”
Meanwhile, Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., advanced to Sunday’s final in the women’s 50-m breaststroke. Her personal best of 30.49 moved the 24-year-old from LA Swim Club through in eighth seed.
“I went in trying to feel big and strong, and that’s how it felt, so that was good,” Nicol said. “I was more composed by the end, I kept my stroke together and was not slipping and rushing. I was thinking more big and strong and less fast and quick. I’m happy to be in that final”
Sydney Pickrem, 20, will look to join Nicol in Sunday’s finals as she swims the 400-m individual medley in the morning, and Canada will also have its men’s and women’s medley relays in action.
“We’re in a good position going into the final day with some more strong swims to come,” Atkinson said.
Earlier in Saturday’s session, Oleksiak set her third Canadian record of the week in the women’s 50-m butterfly. Her time of 25.62 was good for fifth place.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom was the winner in a championship record 24.60, followed by Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands (25.38) and Egyptian Farida Osman (25.39). Kelsi Worrell of Team USA was fourth in an Americas record 25.48.
Canada had two women in the 200-m backstroke final. Kylie Masse of Windsor, Ont., finished fifth in 2:07.04, just ahead of sixth-place Hilary Caldwell of White Rock, B.C. (2:07.15).
“It was a tough race. I could kind of see that we were close on the last 50. It was hard, but fun. I’m looking forward to working more on the 200 in the future,” Masse said.
The 21-year-old Masse, who trains at the University of Toronto, set Canadian records in all three backstroke distances this week, including a world record 58.10 in the 100.
“I’ll get a good sleep and get ready for the medley relay tomorrow,” she said.
It was the second-fastest career time for both backstrokers, ahead of Caldwell’s bronze-medal time of 2:07.54 from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It was pretty painful. I saw I was third on the last 50 but I didn’t quite have it in me to close the way some of the other girls did,” said the 26-year Caldwell, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Victoria.
“It was a fast final. I’m satisfied with the results. I would have liked to be on the podium of course, but it was a good swim in a pretty cool environment so I can’t complain.”
Emily Seebohm defended her world title in 2:05.68 for Australia’s first gold medal of the meet, followed by hometown favourite Katinka Hosszu of Hungary (2:05.85) and American Kathleen Baker (2:06.48).
In other semifinal action, Toronto’s Michelle Toro finished 10th in the women’s 50-m freestyle at 24.66. She was just off the personal best 24.64 from the morning. Sjostrom set a world record 23.67 to advance in first, and it took 24.59 to advance with the Top 8.
“I’m really proud of myself for going that time in the morning and backing it up at night. I did my best and that’s all I can ask for,” said Toro, 26. “I can’t control what other people do, I’m just happy I had a chance to swim at night to the big crowd.”
Her High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Sandrine Mainville of Boucherville, Que., followed in 11th with a personal best of 24.67, taking .30 off her previous mark.
“I’m really happy, it’s not often that I’m doing a best time by that much, especially in the 50, and especially at my age,” said the 25-year-old, who swam against Sjostrom’s world-record lead-off leg in the women’s 4×100 free relay earlier in the meet. “It was great to be able to be in a world record race. It’s the second time that’s happened to me at this meet. I’m happy about my race and happy to have swum in a world record race.”
In his men’s 50-m backstroke semifinal, Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., tied the Canadian record of 25.13. Acevedo, the youngest man in the semis at 19, finished 16th.
“I think it could have been better if I didn’t have a race after kind of in the back of my head, but I’m happy with it,” Acevedo said. “It’s a good time and hopefully next time I swim it I’ll be under 25 seconds.”