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Sydney Pickrem gave Canada its second individual podium finish of the world aquatics championships on the last day of the event in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday..
Pickrem took bronze in the women’s 400-metre individual medley, using a strong final 100m to push for the podium with a personal best time of four minutes, 32.88 seconds — the second fastest in Canadian history.
“It means the world to me, it’s the first 400 IM international level final I’ve ever made,” said Pickrem, the youngest competitor in the final at 20. “I knew when I didn’t make the final in Rio I had so much left, so to finally be able to get in at night and give it all I’ve got, a result like that means the world.”
“I didn’t think I’d be this emotional, but it means the world,” Pickrem told CBC Sports after the race.
The swimmer owns the Canadian record in the 200 IM, but failed to finish that event in Budapest, jumping out of the pool at the end of the first leg after swallowing too much water.
She redeemed herself in a big way on Sunday.
“As much as I felt like I disappointed Canada in my 200 IM, to come back and be able to get on the podium, it’s just a relief and really exciting,” an emotional Pickrem said. “I’m proud to be Canadian and do that for Canada.”
When asked about her nerves before the race, Pickrem responded with a chuckle saying, “Well, if I finish, I then do better than my last race.”
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won 400 IM gold in front of her home crowd, clocking in at a time of 4:29.33, and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte won silver.
Kylie Masse gave Canada their other individual medal of the event, setting a world record in the 100 backstroke.
Penny Oleksiak and Masse led the Canadian 4×100 IM relay team to a fourth-place finish. The team was rounded out by Kierra Smith and Chantal van Landeghem.
The Canadians were 0.57 seconds behind Australia for bronze, while the United States set a world record with a time of 3:51.55 with Simone Manuel swimming anchor.
“This relay came fifth in [the 2016 Rio Olympics] and we just came fourth tonight, so we’re moving in the right direction, which is great,” said van Landeghem.
Oleksiak finished off an underwhelming worlds after setting the world on fire in Rio, but the 17-year-old knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
“It wasn’t my best meet that I’ve ever had, but im not super disappointed in myself,” Oleksiak said. “I think there’s definitely a lot of stuff that I can improve on going forward and that’s what I’m looking forward to now.”
Masse, who won two medals in Budapest, had a chance to become the first Canadian woman to ever win three medals in the same world championships event.
Canada matched its medal total from the Kazan 2015 FINA world championships with four medals. Canada made 17 appearances in finals, up from 16 in Kazan, with an additional 20 top-16 finishers, up from 10 in 2015.
Michael Phelps, you’ve got company.
Caeleb Dressel won his seventh gold medal of the world championships Sunday, putting the U.S. team ahead to stay with another dominating swim in the 4×100-meter medley relay.
One night after becoming the first swimmer to win three golds in one night at a major international meet, Dressel joined Phelps in another elite club with seven golds at the second-biggest meet after the Olympics.
Phelps had seven victories at the 2007 worlds in Melbourne, Australia — a prelude to his record eight golds the following year at the Beijing Olympics.
Dressel matched the feat along the banks of the Danube, emerging as America’s next great swimming star.
The 20-year-old University of Florida student won three individual golds and was part of four winning relay teams.
Canadian Rachel Nicol placed eighth in the women’s 50m breaststroke final, finishing with a time of 30.80.
It was a tough field to compete against, with American Lilly King grabbing gold in a world record time of 29.40. Russia’s Yulia Efimova took silver, and Katie Mieli of the U.S. won bronze.
King eclipsed the mark of 29.48 set by Lithuania’s Ruta Mielutyte at the 2013 worlds in Barcelona.
“I always think Lilly has a world record in her,” Meili said. “Yeah, I knew she was going to go really fast. She’s been incredible this meet. Totally lights on her every time she gets in the pool, so I’m very very proud of her.”
Chase Kalisz breezed to victory in the 400 IM, adding to his triumph in the 200. He became the first swimmer at worlds to sweep the event, which encompasses all four strokes, since Ryan Lochte accomplished the feat in 2011.
Kalisz carried on American domination of the IMs that goes back more than two decades, largely because of Phelps — a former training partner — and Lochte.
Neither is in Budapest, of course. Phelps retired again after the Rio Games, while Lochte was not allowed to compete at worlds because of his shenanigans at last summer’s Olympics.
No worries for Team USA.
Kalisz pulled away on the breaststroke leg and cruised to the finish in 4:05.90 seconds — nearly 2 ½ seconds ahead of the silver medallist , Hungary’s David Verraszto. Japan’s Daiya Seto grabbed the bronze.
In the women’s 50 freestyle, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom got a bit of redemption for her loss to American Simone Manuel in the 100 free.
After setting a world record in the semifinals, Sjostrom completed the furious dash from one end of the pool to the other in 23.69 — just two-hundredths off her mark the previous evening.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands claimed the silver in 23.85, while Manuel settled for the bronze at 23.97.
Manuel knocked off Sjostrom in the 100 free after the Swede went out far too fast on the opening lap and had nothing left for the return. This time, she didn’t have to come back.
France’s Camille Lacourt took gold in the 50 backstroke with a time of 24.35. The silver went to Japan’s Junya Koga, while American veteran Matt Grevers grabbed the bronze.