Canada’s Star Swimmers Prep For Olympics

By Ben Hamill - July 15 2021
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Canada’s Star Swimmers Prep For Olympics

In March 2012, Canada’s top swimmers were preparing for the Olympic swim trials in Montreal. At 16-years-old, Kylie Masse was just grateful to be at a meet of this magnitude so early on in her swimming career. She had no expectations and, in the end, placed 99th overall in her event, which was the 100-metre backstroke. While she never made it to the London Olympics that summer, she did remember seeing Heather and Brittany MacLean, the swimming sister duo who earned their tickets to London at the meet.

Masse knew from the moment she saw them qualify that one day, she would do the same. Just four years later, she was on her way to the Rio Olympics. The Rio Olympics would prove to be pivotal for Canada’s female swimmers, who between them, earned six medals. Now, Canada’s swimming team has its sights set on Tokyo.

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Doesn’t Feel Real For Summer McIntosh

Five years ago, Summer McIntosh was just nine years old, wondering if she’d ever get the opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympics. Now, the 14-year-old is headed to Tokyo after defeating Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle event in June. She says that it doesn’t yet feel real to her, and that it all just feels like a blur.

Out of the 24 swimmers forming part of Team Canada, 11 of them train out of Toronto’s Pan Am Sports Centre. A few of these 11 were added to the team quite late, due to numerous restrictions resulting from the ongoing health crisis.

Maggie Mac Neil Forced To Make Big Changes

Maggie Mac Neil, who hails from London, Ontario, was forced to make a few big decisions as the Olympics seemed to be fast approaching. She needed to leave her training program and coaches in the United States because of ever-changing restrictions. Then, she needed to start afresh with the team in Toronto, just months before heading to Tokyo. After spending two weeks in quarantine, she was able to join her team at the start of April.

While she admits that the team is very competitive, she says that it brings out the best in everyone. She says that her backstroke and freestyle have both improved immensely since she started training in Canada. The swimmers all feed off of each other’s momentum, which will surely go a long way as the team heads to Tokyo in the hopes of bringing home Olympic gold.

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