Olympic 1500m silver medallist Ryan Cochrane, in the wake of forfeiting a promising April Fool's career in Bobsleigh, set the standard for the world over 800m freestyle this year with a 7:43.61 victory on the first night of action at Canadian world-title trials in Victoria.
If 14 swimmers booked tickets to the World Championships in Barcelona this summer, the first national record of the meet fell to 17-year-old breaker Noemie Thomas, UBCD/VNSC. She took the butterfly dash in 26.35, inside the 26.49 standard that had stood to Katerin Savard since 2011. Thomas had challenge the mark with a 26.50 in heats and must now wait for the 100m to seek a place at world champs, the 50m not a qualification event.
Top billing on day 1 went to Cochrane; his metronomic pace took the Randy Bennett coached ace through splits of 56.19, 1:54.11, 3:50.64, 6:46.76 before he upped the pace on the way home to a dominant victory, the minor spoils going to Cochrane's Island clubmate Eric Hedlin, who cracked 8mins with a 7:59.64 effort, and Craig Dagnall, UVIC-PCS, on 8:15.06.
Cochrane's effort, which matches the third best effort of his career (from heats at Rome 2009 world titles), hints at more podium visits to come for the Canadian at world titles this summer, his best a 7:41.86 from the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, the time delivering silver a couple of seconds shy of Sun Yang (CHN), Olympic 1500m free champion ahead of the Canadian in London last year. The 1500m is the big qualification event but expect Cochrane to be chasing medals in the two longest races in the world champs pool this summer.
"I tried to take it out as fast as possible,” said Cochrane. “It’s super encouraging to get that time this early in the season. It’s going to be a good summer.”
If Cochrane ploughed a lonely furrow, the women in the hunt for solo 200m free and 4x200m free berths at the world championships in Barcelona did not. Barbara Jardin, the 21-year-old coached by Benoît Lebrun at PPO, claimed the crown in 1:58.25, turning first in 58.42 at the half-way mark. Samantha Cheverton, of Pointe Claire, clocked 1:59.72 to claim lane 4 for the final.
In the showdown she shadowed Jardin the whole way, turning in 58.63 on the way to silver in 1:58.80. Brittany MacLean, 19, took bronze as the last inside 2mins, on 1:59.53, with Savannah King, 2:00.34, Paige Schultz, 2:00.73, and Alex Komarnycky, 2:00.95, next in line for potential relay action. The first four raced inside the target time for the quartet.
Canadian men will also feature in the 4x200m free in Barcelona: Blake Worsley, of Victoria, took the solo crown in 1:48.80, and was followed home by Alec Page, 19, on 1:49.36, and Aly and Hassaan Abdel-Khalik, 18 and 21 respectively and on 1:49.59 and 1:49.84.
Sinead Russell, 19 and racing for Dolphin Swimming when home in Canada, clocked 59.98 in the heats of the 100m backstroke before taking the title in a time a touch slower, her 1:00.12 keeping at bay 17-year-old Kristin Steins, 1:00.85, and Brooklyn Snodgrass, 18, on 1:00.98.
In the 200m butterfly, PPO's Audrey Lacroix, 29, got the better of Katerin Savard, 19, in the latest head-to-head. There was nothing in it the whole way, Lacroix the biggest gap on splits between the swimmers that visible in the end result: 2:07.89 to 2:08.34. Bronze went to Brenna Maclean in 2:11.47. For Lacroix, qualification for Barcelona 2013 world titles this summer will take her to the sixth global long-course meet of her career, starting at home in Montreal 2005.
The men's 100m backstroke saw Charles Francis, PPO, get the edge on three others in the hunt for gold, his 55.34 keeping at bay Russell Wood, 18, on 55.50, Matthew Swanston, 55.67 and the leader at the half-way turn Kelly Aspinall, 55.72. Aspinall had already claimed a crown of his own, taking the 50 'fly dash in 23.80 ahead of respective efforts of 24.20 and 24.36 from Mike Smerek and Henrik Lindau. In the women's 'fly dash Thomas, who raced to a 2:15.77 finish in the 20-0 'fly final, was followed home by Sandra Mainville, on 26.67, and Carol Kuczynski, 27.33.
:The main goal is just to make the team and be able to keep on working towards worlds,” said Thomas through Swim Canada. "Ever since November I’ve been on this pretty good wave of doing some good training, being able to race at a high level and perform at my best. December at world short course championships was a really good stepping stone for me and hopefully I can just keep building on that wave."
Zack Chetrat, TSC, won a tight tussle with David Sharpe, 1:58.01 to 1:58.55 in the 200m butterfly. The bronze went to Alec Page, 19, in 1:59.58.
In the last race of day 1, Tabitha Baumann, the 17-year-old daughter of Alex Baumann, the 1984 double Olympic medley champion, took the 1500m free in 16:34.29. She raced unattached, the family now based in New Zealand. Sophie Saroukian, took silver in 17:02.50, the bronze going to Olivia Anderson, just 13, in 17:08.12.
Canada Team for World titles after day 1: