TORONTO (June 24, 2021) – Swimming Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s swimming team nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
A total of 26 swimmers will represent the country in the Japanese capital, including 16 female and 10 male athletes.
Due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Swimming Canada’s Selection Committee had provisionally nominated six pool swimmers back in January. Most of the remaining pool athletes qualified for Team Canada based on their performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials, presented by Bell, which took place from June 19 to 23 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Additionally, two open water swimmers qualified based on their results at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier, held June 19 and 20 in Setubal, Portugal.
“It’s very exciting, always an honour to represent the country. I can’t wait to get to Tokyo and see what we can do,” said 2016 Olympian Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., a bronze medallist in the women’s 100-metre backstroke in Rio. “It’s been a long wait. Having this first taste of competition [at Trials] has been very exciting, and I think everyone is looking forward to getting to Tokyo and being able to work on and improve from this meet, and hopefully be even faster a month from now.”
John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s High Performance Director and National Coach, praised the athletes for their resilience throughout an unusual and challenging selection process.
“It’s been the longest Olympic year on record. To get to the point that we can name our nominations to the Canadian Olympic Committee is a great step. The athletes who have made the team have shown their adaptability and resilience for the last 15 months and have shown that they are ready to compete with the best in the world,” said Atkinson, who will be working in the role of Swimming Team Leader at the Games.
“The focus shifts to preparing in Vancouver at UBC for the final staging camp, leaving no stone unturned so that every team member can continue to progress and improve from their Trials performances when they compete in Tokyo. Having seen what they have done over the last five days, I know that they can thrive in the environment in Tokyo.”
The Tokyo-bound squad includes 10 swimmers with previous Olympic experience, including London 2012 100m freestyle bronze medallist Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., returning to the Games for the fourth time (2012, 2008, 2004), and Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., making her third straight appearance.
“After 2016 I had a couple of difficult years, I didn’t believe I’d be able to return to the level of performance that I had known. I had a hard time setting new goals, new dreams,” said Savard, who helped the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay to bronze in Rio. “I chose, as my dream, to compete in my third Olympics. I trained really hard and honestly, I surprised myself. I didn’t believe I had it in me to do everything I did this week. I’m proud of myself and can’t wait to see what I can do in Tokyo.”
Returning Olympians who made their debuts at Rio 2016 include Masse, Penny Oleksiak and Javier Acevedo of Toronto, Ont., Taylor Ruck and Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., Markus Thormeyer of Delta, B.C., Yuri Kisil of Calgary, Alta., and Sydney Pickrem of Halifax, N.S. Masse, Oleksiak, Pickrem and Ruck all train with head coach Ben Titley at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, while Thormeyer and Hayden train at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver under performance coach Tom Johnson.
“It’s a nine-day competition in the pool,” said Atkinson. “We have selected a team that can compete in six relays and be competitive through all nine days, in individual events as well as relays.”
While Hayden, at 37, is the oldest Canadian Olympic swimmer in history, he will be joined by 16 first-time Olympic team members. The list includes 14-year-old Summer McIntosh of Etobicoke, Ont., Canadian record holders Finlay Knox of Okotoks, Alta., and Josh Liendo of Toronto, as well as 100m butterfly world champion Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., all of whom have been training at the High Performance Centre – Ontario.
“I think the mix of veteran leaders and new faces is awesome,” said Masse. “That’s kind of how sport works, there are always older and younger athletes, and it’s a great dynamic to have. I can’t wait to actually be a team and to be together, and to be able to take on Tokyo as Team Canada.”
Canada returned from Rio 2016 with six swimming medals, its best haul in the sport since Los Angeles 1984. Oleksiak became the first Canadian to win four medals in the same Summer Games and the country’s youngest Olympic champion, winning gold in the 100m freestyle as a 16-year-old.
The team will convene in Vancouver on July 3 and train at the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre, home of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver, before travelling directly into Tokyo on July 16.
The Olympic pool swimming competition will take place July 24 to August 1 (Day 1 to 9) at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Open water swimming will take place August 4 and August 5 (Day 12 and 13) at the Odaiba Marine Park.
“It is impossible to not think of swimming as one of the iconic cornerstone sports of the Olympic Games – and we have an exciting swimming team,” said Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. “Veterans like Brent, Kylie and Penny mixed with young talent like Maggie and Summer will have us on the edge of our seats day after day after day.”
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
Javier Acevedo (Toronto, Ont.)
Bailey Andison (Smiths Falls, Ont.)
Katrina Bellio (Mississauga, Ont.)
Tessa Cieplucha (Georgetown, Ont.)
Ruslan Gaziev (Toronto, Ont.)
Mary-Sophie Harvey (Trois-Rivières, Que.)
Brent Hayden (Mission, B.C.)
Yuri Kisil (Calgary, Alta.)
Finlay Knox (Okotoks, Alta.)
Josh Liendo (Toronto, Ont.)
Margaret Mac Neil (London, Ont.)
Kylie Masse (Lasalle, Ont.)
Gabe Mastromatteo (Kenora, Ont.)
Summer McIntosh (Toronto, Ont.)
Penny Oleksiak (Toronto, Ont.)
Sydney Pickrem (Halifax, N.S.)
Cole Pratt (Calgary, Alta.)
Taylor Ruck (Kelowna, B.C.)
Kayla Sanchez (Toronto, Ont.)
Katerine Savard (Pont-Rouge, Que.)
Kierra Smith (Kelowna, B.C.)
Rebecca Smith (Red Deer, Alta.)
Markus Thormeyer (Delta, B.C.)
Kelsey Wog (Winnipeg, Man.)
Hau-Li Fan (Burnaby, B.C.)
Kate Sanderson (Toronto, Ont.)
Martyn Wilby (Ottawa, Ont.) – Head Coach (Pool)
Mark Perry (Ottawa, Ont.) – Head Coach (Open Water)
Vlastimil Cerny (Winnipeg, Man.)
Dave Johnson (Calgary, Alta.)
Tom Johnson (Vancouver, B.C.)
Ryan Mallette (Montreal, Que.)
Ben Titley (Toronto, Ont.)
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.
Story and Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee