Tuesday, June 25, 2024

GO Kingfish swimmer Regan Rathwell earns surprise Olympic berth at Canadian trials

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By Dan Plouffe

Regan Rathwell of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish scored an unexpected Olympic berth last evening at the Swimming Canada Olympic and Paralympic team trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

The 20-year-old University of Tennessee student swam a personal-best time of 2:09.38 to surpass the qualifying standard time of 2:10.39 and claim Canada’s second and final Olympic qualification position in the women’s 200-metre backstroke event.

Rathwell was behind the crucial second-place position at every split before swimming an extraordinary final leg to comfortably overtake all her competitors minus four-time Olympic medallist Kylie Masse, who won in 2:06.24.

“I’m so overjoyed. I don’t even have words,” Rathwell said in a live post-race video broadcast on CBC Sports. “It’s kind of been an up and down path the past couple years dealing with injury and health issues, but having a really great support system in place between teammates, coaches, and family makes all the difference.”

Rathwell exceeded her previous best time of 2:09.54 in the race, though she hadn’t come close to that mark since having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in October 2022. That injury came just months after a broken foot, and pool closures during COVID before that.

Rathwell’s seed time of 2:12.08 ranked her fifth entering the Olympic trials meet.

Read More: After pandemic & broken foot at worlds trials, Tennessee-bound swimmer Regan Rathwell rebounds

“Every swim I do now is a bonus after being out of the water for so long. I’m really appreciating the sport more and more and just doing it for the enjoyment,” Rathwell added via Swimming Canada. “Halfway through the race I was kind of like, ‘OK, you know what? I feel good. Let’s give this a real go.’”

Julie Brousseau of the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas narrowly missed the Olympic qualifying times in her opening two races of the trials. She chopped a huge three-plus seconds off her 400 m freestyle seed time of 4:11.38 with a 4:08.12 second-place performance – just shy of the 4:07.90 OQT.

Brousseau was third in the 200 m freestyle in 1:57.60 (1:57.26 OQT), and finished a disappointing seventh in last night’s 400 m medley. However, a strong performance in today’s 100 m freestyle could help secure the 18-year-old a relay team berth.

GO Kingfish swimmer Ashley McMillan’s top result so far was sixth in the women’s 100 m backstroke, where Rathwell was fourth.

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