Canadian Swimming Championships - full meet report

18 August 2019 (Winnipeg, MB) - The Canadian Swimming Championships this past weekend in the ‘peg were a pretty darn good event for everyone who attended featuring first ever national championship titles, first ever national finals, first ever national medals, best times, new qualifying times and more!

Day 1

Up first for Cascade was day 1 with the 200 back, 50 free and 200 breast and 400 free for para. Our first finalist came in the women’s 200m backstroke with Ella Varga who swam into the “A” final after a 2:16.09 swim in the prelims. At night dropped a full-second from that to 2:15.09. Ella lapped at 32.0, 34.2, 34.7 and then 34.1 on the last 50. In the men’s event Cascade had three swimmers at night with Laird Douglas and Sebastian Somerset swimming in the “B” final and Cole Pratt in the “A” final. Seb was 2:05.76 in prelims with Laird Douglas putting down a lifetime best in the morning to also get in - 2:08.09. At night Sebastian dropped almost a second and a half with his 1:00.7 / 1:03.6 splitting to win the “B” final in 2:04.33. Laird who has been on a tear all summer long has gone from a best time of 2:09.91 as an entry time to: 2:09.62 (Prelims - Juniors) then to 2:08.26 (Finals - Juniors) to 2:08.09 (Prelims - Canadian Championships) to 2:07.08 (Finals - Canadian Championships). It has been quite the streak for Laird going a best time 4 races in a row from prelims at Juniors all the way through to finals at Canadian Championships. Next up was Cole Pratt in the “A” final. Fresh off of the World Championships, back home for a week of work in the pool and then off to Canadian Championships Pratt was the number one seed in the event. In the morning Cole swam head to head to Richie Stokes from the UofC who threw down a lifetime best in the morning to take the pole ahead of Cole. At night it was looking to be pretty much the same story with Stokes in the lead to the 150m mark turning 3/10ths of a second ahead of Pratt and William Marois. All three turned pretty close together and it was the underwater off the wall that made all the difference. Pratt killed it at the 150m turn and came up right at the lead before crushing the last 50m more than a half-second better than everyone else (30.1) to win in 2:00.96. Stokes was right behind in 2:01.26 followed by Marios in 2:01.62.

In the 50m freestyle for Para Morgan Bird came up with a bronze medal in 32.86 which was 7/100ths faster than she did in the prelims. 

Our 200m breaststroke representative was Matt Ketchin who was 2:23.11 in prelims and a lifetime best by more than a second  to swim to 12th into the “B” final. At night Matt worked on the race finish and closed much better on his last two 50’s to go another best time of 2:22.43.

Prelims                   Finals

32.98                    32.25

35.82 1:08.80       36.47 1:08.72

37.00 1:45.80       36.69 1:45.41

37.31 2:23.11       37.02 2:22.43

In the para 400m freestyle event for the girls we had both Morgan Bird and Peyton Morey in the final with this being not only Morey’s first ever national final but first ever nationals ever! Peyton was rock-solid in her nationals debut qualifying for the final in second overall in a 6-second personals best and then swimming to the silver medal at night! Morgan Bird, 2016 & 2012 paralympian finished with the bronze.

Day 2

The second day of the meet offered more excitement, more medals and more best times after a few splashes up and down the newly renovated Pan Am games pool - built for the 5th Pan American Games in 1967, where Mark Spitz won 5 gold medals, and then used again for the 1999 version of the games. The building has stood the test of time and despite some dated amenities is still one of the fastest pools in the country. 

First event up for us was the 100m backstroke for the women and Payton Kelly, in her first ever national championships, was representing in the 100m backstroke “B” final for the women. Payton qualified in 1:05.07 just off of her best but into the final in 15th place overall splitting 31.65 and 33.42. At night she moved up one spot to 14th with an identical final time of 1:05.07 spitting ever so slightly different in 31.81 and 33.26. A great showing for her first kick at the can at her first national championships.

In the men’s final of the 100m backstroke event Cascade had two in the “A” with Sebastian Somerset and Cole pratt qualifying in the top-8. Seb was 57.31 in the prelims and Pratt was 56.16 for first going into the final. At night both swimmers improved on their times with Sebastian swimming to 5th overall in 57.23 while Cole took the gold in 55.86. A big part of the day was to have these two swimmers who are off to the World Juniors where all 50m and 100m events swim heats, semis and finals to get some practice at swimming the race three times in a row. In Budapest they get to have a day between the heats/semis and the finals - here they just compressed it all into about 8 hours for a little extra practice. The idea was see if they could improve with each swim and they did a pretty good job with that strategy as you can see below.

Cole’s 100m backstroke races today:

Prelims #1         Finals #2              Mixed Relay #3

28.24               27.94                  27.26

27.92 56.16     27.92 55.86        28.40 55.66

Seb’s 100m backstroke races today:

Prelims #1        Mixed Relay #2     Finals #3

28.01              27.64                  27.91

29.30 57.31    29.52 57.16        29.32 57.23

In the 400IM finals Matt Ketchin, showing big improvement from Trials in April, made his second “second” swim here in this IM race swimming 4:37.04 for 11th. At night Matt put down a new lifetime best time in the “B” final with a 1:01.57 butterfly leg, 1:11.21 backstroke split, 1:17.25 on the breast and then 1:03.50 on the finishing freestyle leg. Final time for Matt, and for 11th overall, was 4:33.53.

The mixed 4x100MR was the last event of the night and the event which will make its full Olympic debut next summer at the 2020 Olympic Games. First things first, the relay events at championships were totally lit all week and the most exciting aspect of finals each and every night. Our medley relay for the night was made up of Cole Pratt on backstroke, Matt Ketchin on breaststroke, Ella Varga on butterfly and then Payton Kelly on freestyle. Cole led out in 55.66 which was followed up by our second boy on the relay, Matt, with a 1:06.84. Our two girls were next with Ella splitting 1:03.57 on butterfly which was then followed up by our anchor Payton, on the free, in 58.04. Final time was 4:04.11 and good for 6th place overall.

Day 3

Saturday night was all right, all right for fightin’ and some swimming throw downs at the Pan AM pool starting out with the 200IM for the guys. Check it out - the qualifying times in prelims: 2:04.97, 2:05.08, 2:05.18, 2:05.19, 2:05.54, 2:05.55, 2:05.71, 2:05.97 - the entire field all within 1” of each other; not stellar quick times by any means but quite the setup for the evening swim. Cole had qualified first and was taking a different strategy than he had all year long - he’s worked on that front end all year and can get himself out under Canadian record pace, it is the back-end that they have started to focus on now as they point to the last day at junior worlds and the 200IM event on Sunday. Out in 5th place at the 100 in 58.44, Cole moved to 4th at the 150m mark before dropping the fastest 50 free in the field in 29.02 to just ever so barely get his hand on the wall in first in 2:03.32 to  William Marioi’s 2:03.39 (!) and then Rob Hill’s 2:03.43. Quite a tight finish for the field that provided plenty of drama for all the fans in the stands watching this one. This was Cole’s 3rd national championship title of the weekend.

In our para 200IM event we had Peyton Morey in her second final of the weekend. In the prelims Peyton went a lifetime best time of 2:49.12 and at night she went another lifetime best in 2:47.38 taking three full seconds off on the day and finishing 5th on the day.

Prelims                   Finals

36.58                    35.57

43.13  1:19.71      41.73  1:17.30

51.26  2:10.97      52.00  2:09.30

38.15  2:49.12      38.08  2:47.38

The 50m backstroke was a mad dash for the cash and after swimming a solid 29.84 in the prelims to get to the “A” final, Alex Butler was in the hunt at night. It was a super close final, one in which the reigning World’s Junior Champion prevailed, with Alex going a lifetime best time (doesn’t get much better than that!) in 29.52 to finish just off the podium in 4th. Payton Kelly swam to second in the “B: final in 29.80.

The men’s 50m back event had Sebastian Somerset and Cole Pratt once again swimming in the “B” and “A” final respectively. Seb took second in the “B” final, he’ll be swimming this event at the World Juniors, in 26.98 while Cole picked up his 4ht medal, a bronze, in 26.22.

Morgan Bird and Peyton Morey were back in the same final once again this time in the 100m butterfly event. Morgan swam to 6th overall with a 1:25.25 while Peyton, swimming in her second final of the night got down to 1:21.38 for 7th overall.

Day 4

The final day of racing closed out the Canadian Swimming Championships for everyone and closed out the swimming career of one of the club’s young leaders, Mr. Youssef Maksoud, who had been nursing a subluxed shoulder (popped out and then right back in as explained to me by coach Kristina) from the Canadian Junior Championships and slowly worked himself back into shape to race on the last day.

The 100m freestyle as the first event on the night saw Cole Pratt in the “B” final swimming down to 51.66 for second overall in the “B” final. Peyton Morey was back in the “A” final having swum a 1:10.25 in the prelims which was right on her personal best in 33.71 / 36.37. At night she did get to a new lifetime best in 1:09.25 with 33.49 and 35.76 splits for 6th overall. 

Up next, Peyton Morey again, this time in the 100m breaststroke event. Peyton was 1:32.43 in the prelims and then 1:32.72 again at night for 8th place overall - both of those times were underneath her old lifetime best time of 1:32.92.

The relays were the last events of the session and meet with both the girls and boys swimming in the “A” final at night. As always, a great measure of a program is how they stand up to be counted throughout the entire meet and especially on the last day and last events! In doing that Payton Kelly led out the girls relay in a lifetime best time of 1:04.08! Liz Harper, in her first ever senior national final, put down a 1:15.97 breaststroke leg which is more than a full second better than she did in her individual race! Ella Varga did pretty much the same thing on the butterfly going more than 2.5 seconds better than she did in her individual race at 1:02.49! And then our anchor, Alexandra Butler, threw down a 1:00.39 split on the freestyle leg just missing that 60-second mark but helping the team move up from 6th in the morning to 5th at night in a final time of 4:22.93.

The boys were up next to finish off the night for the club and finish out the career for one of our hard-working leaders in the program, Youssef Maksoud - the winner of the last year’s Phill Buckley Award for leadership. It was not going to be easy for the crew after qualifying in 6th place in 3:54 and going up against the top-2 teams in the meet (Neptune & Pointe Claire) who were in a heated battle for the overall team championship - they new this one was going to be tough! Sebastian led the group out in a strong 57.22 on the backstroke; Matt Ketchin put up his  very best breaststroke leg ever in 1:06.15 which was 5/10ths better than prelims and so close to 1:05!; Cole swam 54.86 on the butterfly 100 which was 2/10ths better than the morning; then came our anchor from Youssef who split a 53.16 (he’s only ever been faster once - 52.83 but that was with both arms not one!) freestyle leg to get the team home in 3:51.37. The team moved up one spot from 6th to 5th overall finishing off the event for the group.

We had a lot of firsts and a lot of other memorable moments and milestones from our swimmers at the four day long event including:

Rookie first timers at senior nationals: Rookie sensation Payton Kelly got second swims in the 50 & 100m backstroke events while also swimming in the finals in the relays. Rookie Kian Pratt who came away with a new Olympic Trials qualifying standard in the men’s 800m freestyle.

Peyton Morey, also here for her very first nationals not only got first time finals swims but also picked up medals for the first time as a rookie!

First time finalist at senior nationals: Liz Harper swam in the finals at senior nats for the first time in her life - racing at night in the women’s 4x100 MR. As mentioned earlier Payton Kelly & Peyton Morey were also first time finalists along with Laird Douglas and Matt Ketchin. 

First time medallists & National Championship: Rookie Peyton Morey picked up a podium spot in the 400 free while Cole Pratt took his first every national championship win and ended up with two more which along with his bronze medal gave him the men’s high point award.

100% lifetime best-time sweep: Both Matt Ketchin and Laird Douglas came away from the meet with 100% best times in all events with Laird also making his qualifying time for next year's Olympic trials! Laird and Matt were also our two oldest male swimmers in the meet.