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Teenage swimmer Taylor Ruck won Canada’s first gold medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Thursday in Australia, setting a new Games record in the women’s 200-metre freestyle, before adding a silver in a relay event.
The 17-year-old’s time of 1:54.81 in the 200 free final easily erased the old mark of 1:55.57 set in 2014 by Australia’s Emma McKeon. The world record of 1:52.98 belongs to Italy’s Federica Pellegrini.
Ruck, who was born in Kelowna, B.C., out-touched Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (1:54.85) in a tight finish, while McKeon (1:56.26) collected the bronze.
“In the last 25 metres I took two breaths,” Ruck said. “I thought I just had to keep my head down and try not to breathe because I thought I saw Ariarne coming up really fast and I was thinking, just go as fast as I can.”
Canada’s Penny Oleksiak finished seventh in 1:59.55. Oleksiak, who’s also 17, revealed on Wednesday that her grandmother died before the start of the Commonwealth Games.
“[The Commonwealth Games are] just kind of a viewpoint of where I am right now going into the next Olympics,” said Oleksiak, who stunned the swimming world by winning gold in the 100 freestyle and finishing with four medals at the 2016 Rio Games. “I’m not expecting to be my next Olympic level right now. [I’ll] just see where I am, see what I can fix, and then build from there.”
A short time after the 200 final, Ruck and Oleksiak led Canada’s women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team to a silver medal. With Ruck swimming the anchor leg, Canada clocked in a 3:33.92, comfortably ahead of England but well behind the Australian team that set a new world record of 3:30.05.
Ruck and OIeksiak were both on the Canadian team that won bronze in this event in Rio. Alexia Zevnik and Kayla Sanchez, who were not on that Olympic team, were the other members of the squad on Thursday,
Earlier Thursday in Australia, Joanna Brown won Canada’s first medal of the Games by taking bronze in the women’s triathlon.
Canada is aiming for 100 medals at the Games, which are being hosted by the city of Gold Coast and include events for both able-bodied and para athletes.
Here’s a breakdown of Canada’s podium finishes on Thursday, the first day of competition: