Canada takes bronze in women’s freestyle swim relay
RIO DE JANEIRO—Canada couldn’t let a day go by without earning an Olympic medal.
Swimmers Sandrine Manville of Lachine, Que., Chantal Van Landeghem of Winnipeg, Toronto’s Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., gave Canada its first medal of the Rio Games, capturing the bronze in the 4×100-metre freestyle relay.
Swimming in the last event of the first day of Games competition, the Canadians finished in 3:32.89 behind the gold medallist Australia (3:30.65) and United States, which took silver in 3:31.89.
Canada had qualified third out of the heats, swimming 3:33.84 on Saturday morning and outdistancing Italy, the fourth-place qualifier by more than two seconds.
It was just the second medal ever in the 400-metre freestyle relay for Canada after a bronze in Mexico City in 1968.
The medal win gets the swim team off to rousing start and starts Team Canada off on its quest to reach a top-12 finish in the medal standings. It also already matches Canada’s efforts in the pool in London four years ago.
The relay medal capped an extraordinary Olympic debut for the 16-year-old Oleksiak, who qualified for Sunday’s final of the 100-metre butterfly after finishing third in Saturday’s semifinal in 57.10.
Oleksiak swam a Canadian and world junior record 56.73 seconds, good for third place among the semifinal qualifiers in the morning heats.
Canada’s other finalist on Saturday, Emily Overholt of Vancouver, was racing for the first time since the Olympic trials as she was coming back from a hamstring injury to finish fifth in the 400-metre individual medley.
Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane failed to get out of the heats of the 400-metre freestyle. Cochrane will begin his quest for a medal in his best event — the 1,500-metre freestyle — on Tuesday.
“It’s frustrating, but I know that I’m fortunate to have two chances at the Olympics,” Cochrane told reporters Saturday morning. “Not a lot of people get that second chance. I’m an old enough athlete to know what I need to work on, and I have six days to do that.”
But Cochrane also knows how Oleksiak feels.
“In my first race, I raced the final and it was a learning experience,” Cochrane said before the semfinal. “She’s going in third. That’s a pretty positive learning experience. If you can keep your head around all these people that you might idolize and have looked up to for years, and know that you have a chance to beat them, that’s the exact mindset you need to get to the podium.
Also Saturday, Canadians Noemie Thomas and Sydney Pickrem failed to advance in their respective events. Thomas tied for 18th in the 100 butterfly, while Pickrem finished 12th in the 400 individual medley.