INDIANAPOLIS – Team Canada’s Kayla Sanchez, Faith Knelson and Rebecca Smith added to Canada’s growing medal total at the FINA World Junior Championships. Canada now has ten medals over the first four days, with two days left of competition.
Sanchez, who trains at High Performance Centre – Ontario, bagged a silver in the 200-metre individual medley. Her time of 2 minutes 12.64 seconds was behind only Miku Kojima of Japan.
“It was definitely a fun event for me. The 200 IM isn’t something I’ve been focusing on in training. It was just really fun to swim it and race new people.”
The 16-year-old closed out the race with a 30.49 in the final 50 metres, over a full second faster than every other swimmer in the final.
“I just wanted to get up and race, and challenge myself. I wanted to see what I could come back in the freestyle.”
Knelson of NextGen – Victoria captured a silver medal in the 100-m breaststroke. The 15-year-old breaststroker touched in with a time of 1:07.47. It was the first time a Canadian has won a medal in the event at the World Junior Championships.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race going into it. Those girls are extremely talented. Going up against the best juniors in the world is pretty amazing, so I’m happy with that and it means a lot to me.”
Knelson was second only to Ireland’s Mona McSharry, who touched in at 1:07.10. The bronze medal went to USA’s Zoe Bartel.
“I owe it mostly to my coach and my team, they’ve supported me throughout the year. Also being here with Team Canada, I wouldn’t have been able to win a medal without their support.”
This is Knelson’s second silver medal of the championships. She also finished second in the 50-m breaststroke on Thursday.
In the 50-m butterfly, Rebecca Smith of HPC – Ontario took home a bronze medal. The Red Deer native blasted a lifetime best of 26.22.
“It feels great. This is my first individual medal at juniors so it’s really great,” said Smith. “I just stayed in my own lane and charged into the wall.”
Smith is gearing up for the 100-m butterfly, with heats and semifinals on Sunday, and the final on Monday.
“My focus is more on the 100 fly, so to have this front end speed on the 50 looks good for my 100.”
Smith shared the podium with Japan’s Rikako Ikee and Sweden’s Sara Junevik, who touched in at 25.46 and 26.18.
Jade Hannah of NextGen – Victoria will be the top seed in Sunday’s 50-m backstroke final. The 15-year-old from Halifax qualified in a time of 28.04. Hannah captured a bronze medal on Thursday in the 100-m backstroke.
Ruslan Gaziev of Markham Aquatic Club finished the 50-m freestyle in sixth place after sprinting to a 22.56.
“Ruslan swam the 50 free three times, all well under his personal best coming into the meet,” said Ken McKinnon, Swimming Canada’s National Development Coach. “He placed sixth in a very close final, and with experience he will be one of our better sprinters in the future.”
Team Canada’s medal total of ten is approaching their best ever World Junior Championships medal count of fourteen, which was achieved at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru.
“The Canadian junior team continues to impress with consistent improvement from the heats, to the semifinals, and into the finals. We’ve managed to get to the podium more frequently than we’ve done in the past. We’re approaching our best ever medal count with two days remaining.” said McKinnon.
The FINA World Junior Championships run through Monday in Indianapolis. Finals begin at 6 p.m. ET each day and will be streamed live by CBC at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/aquatics
Full results are available here