Sydney Pickrem tops her Canadian record in 200 IM, Taylor Ruck ties Canadian medal record
Canada’s Sydney Pickrem already owned the Canadian record for the women’s 200-metre individual medley, but she one upped herself at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo on Saturday morning.
Pickrem finished second in the event with a time of 2:09.07, losing to Japan’s Yui Ohashi by just under a second. Ohashi set a record of her own, swimming the fastest time ever in the event at the Pan Pacifics with a time of 2:08.16.
Pickrem was disqualified from that event at last year’s world championships after she choked on water in the final and got out of the pool.
“After what happened last year, I can consider it redeemed,” Pickrem said. “It was the best that I could do this week and that’s all I expect out of myself, so I’m happy with it.
“It’s been kind of a rough year being really sick and having mono earlier this year, so going into this meet I tried to have no expectations, just do the best I can for Canada. To go that time right now I’m really happy,” she added.
Canadian Kelsey Wog also competed in the race, finishing in sixth position with a time of 2:12.08.
Relay team reaches podium
Canada finished third in the 4×100 metre freestyle relay on Saturday morning, less than 48 hours after securing the exact same result in the 4×200.
The team of Kayla Sanchez, Taylor Ruck, Rebecca Smith and Mackenzie Paddington finished the event in 3:34.07.
Australia won gold in 3:31.58, while the United States took silver in 3:33.45.
“Picking up a bronze medal in the Pan Pacs is really satisfying and something that we can build onto going into world championships next year,” said Swimming Canada High Performance director John Atkinson.
Ruck has tied six other Canadians for the most medals at a single Pan Pacs with four. Medal records are nothing new for Ruck, who tied the all-time Commonwealth Games record of eight earlier this year.
Canada has six medals overall at the championships, one short of the team’s total from 2014. Competition continues Sunday.
Meanwhile, Katie Ledecky claimed her second gold of the Championships in the women’s 400 metres freestyle on Saturday, while Rikako Ikee cemented her place as the rising star of Japanese swimming.
American Ledecky dominated the 400 metres to win in a time of 3:58:50, the sixth fastest swim in history, and provide the perfect response to her disappointing bronze in the 200 metres.
The five-times Olympic gold medallist was never threatened by 17-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmuss, who went under four minutes for the first time to claim silver. American Leah Grace was third in a repeat of the podium from Thursday’s 800 metres.
“It is exciting for me to see that [Titmuss going under four minutes],” said Ledecky, who won five golds at the 2014 Pan Pacs aged just 17.
“I was the only one to go under four minutes in a textile suit for a few years now and so it is exciting for me to see how I put the standard out there and there are a lot of girls chasing that.”
In 18-year-old Ikee, Japan may have found their swimming talisman for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics following her domination of the women’s 100 metres butterfly.
After claiming two silver medals on the first two days of competition, Ikee went one step further as she broke the championship record she set in the morning’s heats to win gold in 56:08 seconds.
American Kelsi Dahlia and Australia’s Emma McKeon took silver and bronze, but the race was all about Ikee as the teenager thrilled an expectant home crowd with a stunning performance that threatened Sarah Sjoestoem’s world record of 55:48 seconds.
“My speed is improving because I am gaining more strength and power,” said Ikee, who added that she was aiming to go under 56 seconds soon.
“It was so important to win this global competition. I always want to improve my personal best but this time it was special because I won a gold.”