Olympian Penny Oleksiak an inspiration to Montreal swimmers


Wednesday's Rio Games wrap up

Oleksiak, just 16 years old, tied for gold with American Simone Manuel in an Olympic-record 52.70.

“Once the Olympics started, I really started to like her because she just kept winning and she was always so amusing when she didn’t look at the board as soon as she finishes, and then she turns around and she had these great emotions on winning”, she said. “I think, for us, we may see one of our biggest years ever”. Is she the hands down favourite to win the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s athlete of the year?

Kendra Burton, coach of the Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club, said she and her swimmers have had a chance to watch Oleksiak grow into an Olympian. “I dunno. Maybe”, she said.

Break out the champagne; Penny Oleksiak has some celebrating to do. While coaches didn’t gave her a firm no on running the marathon, she wasn’t on the original list when determining the team for Rio, sparking a #LetLanniRun social media campaign.

“What I really love about this sport is getting to be in your own lane and race the people beside you”. “And I think it’s just going to keep moving forward from here”.

She also made history, becoming the youngest Canadian to win Olympic gold. He’s got her pegged as someone who could go down with the greatest of all time.

On Wednesday, Oleksiak anchored the women’s 4×200-metre freestyle relay team, where the 16-year-old and teammates Katerine Savard, Taylor Ruck and Brittany MacLean won the bronze medal. In the coming years, if everything goes well, she will find out what other planets exist, out there in the water.

Kylie Masse of Windsor, Ont., Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., Oleksiak and Winnipeg’s Chantal Van Landeghem swimming backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle respectively finished fifth in the women’s medley relay in three minutes 55.49 seconds. I didn’t think at 27-years-old that I could do that.

A big Oleksiak fan, Adelaide was overjoyed when the teenager won Canada’s first gold. “And I let myself down too”. No swimmer won gold in Montreal, however.

“That brings about a completely different team culture, where everybody knows they can move from the heats through to the semifinals and the finals”, Atkinson said. “Right after the Olympics, people were just lining up”.

“I mean, somebody asked me, what’s been your favourite moment?” said Alison.

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