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Team Canada triumphs at Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre pool

Canadian synchro divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, won gold in 10-m synchro platform on July 13. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Canadian athletes are turning up the heat at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) and setting the bar at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Since the Games launched, Canada’s synchro, diving and swim teams have taken 24 medals, and are breaking Pan Am and Canadian records.

A number of Team Canada athletes enjoyed making a splash at their home pool. Swimmers, for instance, have the benefit of training at the new state-of-the-art facility at U of T Scarborough where they are also supported with sport science and medicine services provided by the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), which is located at TPASC.

Team Canada dominated at swim events on Tuesday, Chantal Van Landeghem took gold and set Canadian and Pan Am records in the women’s 100-m freestyle, with a time of 53.83 seconds, more than a full second ahead of race favorite and 12 time-Olympic medallist American Natalie Coughlin. TPASC is the home pool for three of the four relay team members (Chantal Van Landeghem, Sandrine Mainville and Michelle Williams), who train at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre—Ontario.

In the women’s 4X100-m freestyle relay, Sandrine Mainville, Michelle Williams, Katerine Savard and Chantal Van Landeghem, again bested Coughlin and the American team to put Canada first with a time of 3:36:80, another Canadian and Pan Am record.

Audrey Lacroix, who also trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre—Ontario at TPASC and is the longest-serving member of the Canadian team, took gold in the 200-m butterfly, her second career Pan Am top honour.

Canada’s Santo Condorelli took silver in the men’s 100-m freestyle, with a personal best of 48.57. Condorelli also led Canada’s silver-medal performance in the men’s 4X100-m freestyle relay, with an opening time of 47.98, equaling the fastest in the world this year. Joined by Karl Krug, Evan Van Moerskerke and Yuri Kisil, the team clocked 3:14:32.

U of T’s own Zack Chetrat who trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre—Ontario, took the bronze in the men’s 200-m butterfly with a Canadian record of 1:56:90.

Another Pan Am record was set at TPASC by Brazil’s 4X100m freestyle relay team with a time of 3:13:66.

Team Canada swimmers won another seven medals at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre pool, bringing their total to 13 in the last two days. 

Canadian women took gold and silver in the 200-m breaststroke, as Kierra Smith stretched to take gold, just ahead of Martha McCabe, swimming in her home pool, who took silver.

Their 1-2 finish was the first of two by Canada. Hilary Caldwell and Dominique Bouchard took gold and silver in the 200-m backstroke.

Two more silvers and a bronze were won by Emily Overholt in women’s 200-m freestyle, Edmonton’s Richard Funk in men’s 200-m freestyle, and Team Canada’s third-place finish in the 4X200-m freestyle relay.

Swim competition continues through Friday.

Earlier this week, the Canadian women won two gold medals in synchronized swimming for swims with the highest level of difficulty in their events. Duet synchronized swimmers Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau—the competition favourites—also gained an automatic entry to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro with a routine that had the capacity crowd at TPASC shouting their support. As part of the eight-women synchro team, Thomas and Simonau again earned a gold medal.

Canada ranked second overall in Diving with two gold, five silver and two bronze medals, more than doubling its diving medal total from the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara. 

Synchro divers Pamela Ware—a two-time Olympian, and Jennifer Abel, won silver in 3-m synchro, performing a double twisting 2 ½-somersault that is usually only done by men; this was the third time they have executed the dive at an international competition. Abel won gold and Ware silver in the women’s 3m springboard. Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benefeito earned gold in women’s synchronized 10-m platform. Filion also took silver and Benfeito bronze in women’s 10-m platform. Philippe Gagne took bronze in men’s 3-m springboard and together with François Imbeau-Dulac took silver in men’s synchronized 3-m springboard. Gagne also won silver in men’s 10-m platform, together with Vincent Riendeau.

The Diving Plongeon Canada and Synchro Canada national teams have trained at the University’s TPASC and CSIO facility this past year. Synchro Canada was one of the first national sports teams to host a training camp at the facility in September 2014. All Sport Canada-carded athletes have access to Canadian Sport Institute Ontario facilities at UTSC’s TPASC, to train on their own when they are home in or visiting Toronto.

Canada wins six more medals in the pool

Canada picked up six more medals for a total of 19 (five gold, nine silver, five bronze) with two days of competition remaining.

In the women’s 400-m individual medley, Emily Overholt was disqualified for a non-simultaneous wall touch during the breast-stroke leg. Her time, 4:35:43, would have been the fourth-fastest in the world this year as well as a national and Pan Am record.  Canada’s Sydney Pickrem was upgraded from bronze to silver in the women’s individual medley.

Canada’s Luke Reilly also moved up to silver after Brazil’s most decorated Pan Am swimmer was stripped of victory in the individual medley for a similar violation.

Noemie Thomas and Katerine Savard took silver and bronze in the women’s 100-m butterfly.  Santo Condorelli took bronze in a very close men’s 100-m butterfly, his third medal of the Games. 

Overholt, Savard, Toronto’s Brittany McLean and Alyson Ackman took bronze in the 800-m freestyle relay.

19 Pan Am records broken with two days to go

American Olympian Natalie Coughlin set a new Games record in the 100-m freestyle preliminaries with a time of 53.85.  Breaking the previous record set by teammate Amanda Weir in 2011 moved Coughlin up to 10th in the world this season from the 17th spot.

American Kelsi Worrell’s record-breaking 57.24 in the100-metre butterfly is the third quickest in the world this year.  Six time Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt set a new Games record in the 200-m freestyle. The American women smashed—by almost seven seconds—the Pan Am Games record in the 4X200-m relay. Sean Lehane set the new Games record in the men’s 200-metre backstroke.  Teamate Giles Smith broke the Games record set in 207 in the men’s 100-m butterfly, swimming just off his lifetime best.

Brazil’s Joso De Lucca, a 3013-14 NCAA champion, broke the Pan Am and South American record in the men’s 200-m freestyle.  Teamates Thiago Simon and Leonardo De Deus set new records in the men’s 200-m breaststroke and the 200-m butterfly.  Brazil’s men’s team also set new Games records in the 4X100-metre and the 4X200 freestyle relays.


Update, July 19 - Nearly 30 Pan Am records set

All together 28 Pan Am records were broken at the 2015 swim events at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, with seven being broken by Canadian swimmers.  Canada takes home eight gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals.

Olympian Ryan Cochrane took gold in both the 1,500-m freestyle and 400-m freestyle. Emily Overholt led from start to finish, winning gold in the women’s 400-m freestyle.  All 18 women on the Canadian team leave Toronto with a Pan Am medal, since those who swim relays in the morning preliminaries get a medal if they don’t swim at night.

U of T swim coach Byron MacDonald calls it one of the fastest pools in the world.  It’s all about the depth of the pool, width of the lanes, the quality of the water and how water drains in and out. Even the lane ropes absorb water and diminish turbulence.   Swimmers are given every advantage.  Not only is the pool fast, swimmers say the home crowds are loud.


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