OTTAWA – Canadians Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse, and Sydney Pickrem are among the most recent wave of athletes to announce their participation in the first-ever FINA Champions Swim Series.
The three-leg event will premiere with competitions in Guangzhou, China, from April 27-28; Budapest, Hungary, from May 11-12; and Indianapolis, USA, from May 31-June 1. Invitations were distributed to athletes based on their status as an Olympic or world medallist, world record holder, or for their high placement in FINA’s world rankings.
Eighteen-year-old Oleksiak will be the sole Canadian donning the Maple Leaf in Budapest. The Toronto native captured international attention for her Olympic debut in Rio, where she earned four medals that included a gold in the 100-m freestyle.
Oleksiak will be joined by both Masse and Pickrem for the Indianapolis leg of the Series. Following up her bronze medal in Rio, 23-year-old Masse was crowned the 2017 world champion in the 100-m backstroke in world record time. While her record fell the next year to the USA’s Kathleen Baker, Masse had the world’s fastest time of 2018 in the 200-m backstroke.
“I am quite excited about the meet as I am sure there will be great competition,” said Masse. “This is a very exciting time to be a swimmer with these new competitions coming on stream. It’s a huge step forward.”
Rounding out the Canadian field will be 21-year-old Pickrem, another Rio Olympian who earned a bronze medal in the 400-m individual medley at the 2017 FINA World Championships. The Texas A&M student, who also represents Island Swimming, had the fourth-fastest 200-m IM in the world in 2018.
The Series was created to be a spectacle of the world’s top swimming talent. Only four athletes will compete in each event, which includes the 50-m, 100-m, and 200-m distances for butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, in addition to the 400-m freestyle and the 200-m IM.