Winter Ontario Championships - Day 1

Cascade Office

05 March 2020 (Toronto, Ontario) - Day 1 of the Winter Ontario Swimming Championships happened at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) today with three Cascade swimmers racing: Cole Pratt, Ingrid Wilm and Ella Varga. All three made the trip out east after getting bounced out of the TYR Pro Series meet in Des Moines. The meet in Des Moines was oversubscribed and quite limited in size so a lot of Canada’s top-swimmers are present in Eastern Canada.

These three road warriors have been travelling quite a bit of late competing in Edmonton at the beginning of February before hitting a 10-day training camp in Florida mid-month which led them into the Cascade hosted Transmountain meet on the 22nd and 23rd of February.

The meet in Toronto, which just ten days ago was moved from the historic Olympium pool in Etobicoke to the fairly new Pan Am Centre in Scarborough, is promising to be chok-full of excitement with a number of national teamers signed up to compete. Pratt is signed up to contest the 50, 100 & 200m freestyle, as well as the 100, 200m backstroke, the 100m butterfly and 200m IM. Those events will bring Cole up against some of Canada’s best including Yuri Kisil and Joshua Liendo in the freestyle events and butterfly and World Junior Championship medallist and former Okotokian, Finlay Knox, in the IM. Varga is entered to race the 50, 100 and 200m freestyle, the 100 and 200m backstroke as well as the 100m butterfly. Ingrid will swim the same six (6) events that Varga has been entered in. Both Ingrid and Ella will have their hands full in the backstroke events with World Champion Kylie Masse scheduled to swim as well Olympic & World Championship medalist, Taylor Ruck. In the women’s freestyle our two ladies will be swimming against Olympic gold medallist Penny Oleksiak and World Championships medallist, Kyla Sanchez. 

The Ontario Winter Championships meet will be a good test for all our swimmers as it draws comparison swims from the TYR Pro Series meet happening in Des Moines, IA at roughly the same time.

So, on day 1, what did our intrepid trio compete in? Ella swam the 50m freestyle in the morning and the “A” final of the 100m backstroke while Ingrid Wilm made not only the 100m backstroke final but also the “A” final of the 50m free. Cole Pratt swam the 200 IM, the 50 free and the 100m backstroke later scratching out of the 50m free event after equally his best time to just concentrate on the IM & BK double at night.

First event up at night was the 200IM where Pratt was swimming against the Canadian number one ranked swimmer in the 200IM, Finlay Knox. Knox, a name we are all familiar with out here out west, just missed the Canadian record last summer in this event swimming 1:59.44 on his way to medalling at the World Junior Championships in Budapest. Traditionally, the race is swum this way by the two top-Canadians in this event: Pratt takes it out like a screaming eagle on the front end fly-back while Knox bides his time and rocks the back-end like no one’s business - a classic case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Both swimmers have been working on their “weak-legs” all year with Cole putting down his fastest ever second 100 split this morning in prelims on his way to a 2:04.0 heats swim. At night it was another one for the books between these to, just check these splits out!:

Pratt                         Knox

26.30                       25.98

29.25  55.55            30.77  56.75

37.38  1:32.93         35.24  1:31.99

29.22  2:02.15         28.85  2:00.84

It came down to the free finish after a see-saw battle over the front three 50’s that went Knox, Pratt, Knox and finally after out swimming his opponent - Knox with the win and Cole in for second in his 2nd fastest ever 200IM of 2:02.15.

Next came the mad-dash for the cash, the 50m freestyle, with Ingrid Wilm in the “A” final out to once again crush the field on the underwater start. 26.81 in the prelims for Ingrid, a lifetime best time!, and at night a move up from 5th place to the silver medal spot in 26.57. But, there would be no rest for the wicked Wilm as she had to dive in to the warm down tank immediately after to get ready for the 100m backstroke up in a little less than 40 minutes! Ingrid’s 50m event was a huge lifetime best for her as she really moved on the field towards the back-end of the single-length race.

Not only would Wilm be in the final after her solid 1:02.0 in the morning but so was teammate and training partner, Ella Varga. Varga swam the 50m freestyle but didn’t  get through to the finals and was solid in the backstroke in 1:05.67 (32.1/33.4). Squeaking into the “A” final in 10th we’d be looking for another big heats to finals drop out of Ella like she normally does!

As we noted earlier this final, as in almost all women’s events, was a stacked one with no less than 3 Olympic medallists and 5 senior national teamers in the final - look out! Wilm had the best back-end of anyone in the morning so she was looking for a little more front-end speed to be able to contend with Masse et al while Varga needed a bit of the same off the mark as well as another little boost on the finish to put down the swim she was looking for.

Masse          Ruck         Wilm         Varga

28.95          29.55       30.33      31.63

30.95          30.98       31.07      32.61

59.90          1:00.53    1:01.35   1:04.24

Wilm worked that front end as she was asked and put herself into a much more completive spot with her 30.33 first 50 and then another solid finish in 31.07 for a finish time of 1:00.35- right on her best in-season, ever!, and a little less than of a second off of her lifetime best. For that swim Ingrid took fourth behind Olympic medalists Masse, Kennedy Goss and Ruck. Ella dropped a nice chunk from her morning swim to finish 8th overall in 1:04.24 which is better than at the Transmountain.

In the boy’s back Cole put up a big negative split with his morning 56.81 (29.1/27.7) which was a couple seconds out ahead of the field. At night it was going to be a different story - this 200IM & 200BK double was serving as a bit of Olympic Trials prep - much like his 200BK & 200IM double at the WTF meet - Trials at the end of the month also have the 200IM and 200BK on the same day.

Cole won the 100m back final by a fair margin on the field.

Prelims         Finals

29.12          27.13

27.69          27.84

56.81          54.96

This was a good drop for Cole and improved on his best ever time in season. Pratt’s personal best from was from his 5th place finish at last summer’s World Junior Championships in 54.63.

Other notes for this weekend’s event

There will be at least ten (10) senior Canadian national team swimmers competing at the Winter Ontario Swimming Championship as well as a number of junior team members all in a similar state of readiness as they are all scheduled to be competing later in the month at the Canadian Olympic Trials:

Mack Darragh, Rio 2016 Olympic team

Kennedy Goss, Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist

Yuri Kisil, World Championships medallist

Joshua Liendo, 2019 World Championships, 2019 Junior World Championships (medallist)

Gabe Mastromatteo, 2019 World Championships, 2019 Junior World Championships (medallist)

Kylie Masse, 2017 & 2019 World Champion in the women’s 100m backstroke

Penny Oleksiak, Rio 2016 Olympic Gold medalist

Taylor Ruck, Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist

Kayla Sanchez, 2019 World Championship medalist

Rebecca Smith, 2019 World Championship medalist

You should be able to follow your Cascade swimmers through the links below, including the TV webcast, as well as on Meet Mobile (Winter Ontario Swimming Championships):

Winter Ontario Championships - Meet Central

Winter Ontario Championships - Psych Sheets

Winter Ontario Championships - Live Results

Winter Ontario Championships - Event Page

Winter Ontario Championships - Rectec TV Webcast

This meet in Ontario will be the penultimate prep meet for the Cascade crew as they fine-tune and dial things in for the Canadian Olympic Trials at the end of the month. The last meet before Trials will be the Alberta Spring Championships in Edmonton (March 19-22) where they will be competing with the rest of their trials teammates over two days of the event.