INDIANAPOLIS – Olympic bronze medallist Hilary Caldwell of White Rock, B.C., won the gold medal and set this year’s world’s best time on Friday in the women’s 200-m backstroke at the second stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series circuit. The victory highlighted a five-medal evening for Canadian swimmers.
Caldwell clocked two minutes and 08.68 producing a strong second half swim after ranking third at the halfway point. Yaxin Liu of China took the silver in 2:09.80 and Dominique Bouchard of North Bay, Ont., snared the bronze in 2:10.41.
‘’It was a great swim for me,’’ said Caldwell, who trains at Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre- Victoria. ‘’It’s the fastest I’ve ever gone at this point in the season so it’s looking pretty good for me heading into the world championship trials (next month). I was really happy with the consistency of my race. My fitness was very strong and I had a lot left for the end.’’
Caldwell admits she’s gained plenty of confidence from her Olympic success last summer in Rio.
‘’It was a dream come true for me to win the Olympic medal,’’ she said. ‘’It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and it was a great experience to race against those amazing women backstrokers.’’
Canada also collected two medals in the women’s 200-m freestyle won by Federica Pellegrini of Italy in 1:56.07. Kayla Sanchez of Ajax, Ont., a national youth team member, took the silver in 1:58.46 while Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., and Menghui Zhu of China tied for third at 1:58.78. Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., was seventh.
In the women’s 50-m freestyle, Zhu took the gold in 24.97 edging Michelle Williams of North York, Ont., by a mere 0.01 seconds. Madison Kennedy of the U.S. was third in 25.16 and Sandrine Mainville of Montreal fourth at 25.29. Sanchez was eighth.
Sarah Darcel of Victoria was fourth in the women’s 400-m individual medley and Josh Zakala of Victoria sixth in the men’s 400-m IM.
Competition ends Saturday.