All the greatest musical groups in history have reached ecstasy thanks to the uniqueness of each of their members. The Canadian women’s swim team is a bit like that. She returns from Budapest Worlds with a historic harvest as she relives the best moments of her story.
Posted at 4:20 p.m
“We are witnessing the best years of Canadian swimming,” said Benoit Huot, former swimmer, multiple Paralympic medalist and analyst at Radio-Canada.
Canada collected 11 medals including 3 gold medals, good for fourth place in the medal table. A week that Huot describes as “beyond expectations”.
After winning six medals at the Tokyo Olympics ten months ago, Canadian swimmers continue their momentum, especially in the women’s category. Precisely because this team brought all the elements together to win.
It’s like a band. Very good bands are always 10 or 15 years at the top and that fades as members leave. In swimming, it’s the athletes who retire. It all started in 2015-2016 for this core and they followed one another.
This core is masterfully guided by Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse. The 22- and 26-year-old swimmers shone again at the World Championships. Oleksiak won four relay medals, while Masse became world champion for the third time in her career, in addition to two more medals.
Maggie Mac Neil, Taylor Ruck, Rebecca Smith, Kayla Sanchez and Summer McIntosh, among others, have been ennobled in recent years. “Summer will swim to Paris, but it’s possible some will retire after 2024. So that’s super motivating and I think the girls want to keep that momentum going and most of them train together in Toronto every day. »
Additionally, Huot believes the Canadian swimmers’ success is due to the coaching of the athletes at the High Performance Center in Toronto.
However, the Paralympian was a bit concerned ahead of the start of the Worlds as the team would not be led by Ben Titley, the formation’s prolific head coach, whose contract was not renewed by Swimming Canada in March. It is thanks to him that the Oleksiaks, Masses and McIntosh managed to reach the highest peaks. “Ben Titley is a magician. The guy who brings a spark to a training program,” Huot said. However, his successor, Ryan Mallette, has done a great job since taking office. However, Huot fears that Titley’s absence will make itself felt for more experienced swimmers in the medium term.
The silent power
Kylie Masse has four Olympic medals and eight world championships. She’s won everything but Olympic gold. The Ontarian may not be the most talkative or well-known, but she remains the most consistent swimmer on the country, if not the planet. The back specialist deserves more credit, Huot thinks.
It’s the unsung strength of this swim team. She is always present. There are few athletes in any country as consistent as Kylie Masse.
Mass is at the heart of this team, through his experience but also through his approach to his sport: “He’s one of the most hardworking. I believe that Kylie, while quiet, is the central core of this team. She is the one who brings everyone together and inspires the other girls. He is a role model and role model for this team. »
The young prodigy
Summer McIntosh turned many eyes when she attended the Tokyo Games at the age of 14. She recently impressed everyone by becoming a world champion and four-time medalist at just 15 years old.
“She has lost weight in the last 10 months. She was petite and tiny in Tokyo. She is still very young and very small, but she is much stronger in the upper body. It looks like she’s grown, she’s gained confidence in the last year and that’s what sets her apart,” says Huot.
McIntosh is a diamond in the rough. The kind of talent that only passes once in a generation. She has lowered several world records and although she has not yet graduated from high school, she competes with the best swimmers in the world. “We want her to stay there for the next 10 years. »
Thanks to her and the other team members who are in their 20s, the future of Canadian swimming is now here.