Ottawa’s Karyn Jewell hugs coach Michel Bérubé shortly after receiving her bronze medal at the Canadian Olympic swim trials, where she swam a new personal-best time in the women’s 400 m individual medley. Photo: Dan Plouffe
By Dan Plouffe
Two Ottawa teenagers went toe-to-toe for a place on the podium at the Canadian Olympic swim trials on March 28 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
The slightly older athlete, 18-year-old Karyn Jewell of the Gatineau Phénix swim club, earned the slight advantage at the finish line, stopping the clock in four minutes, 45.26 seconds to place third in the women’s 400-metre individual medley, just ahead of 16-year-old Nepean-Kanata Barracudas athlete Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson in 4:45.65.
“I definitely felt the difference between this morning and this evening. I was calm out there,” said Grade 12 St. Peter Catholic High School student Jewell, who snuck through the preliminaries in eighth place before setting a personal-best time in the final despite the tough Lane 8 draw. “My coach gave me a really good pep-talk and said, ‘If you have a lane, you have a chance of doing anything,’ and I’ve always believed in that.”
For Seltenreich-Hodgson, it was the second time in the same day that she knocked four seconds off her personal-best time in the event.
“I am so happy,” smiled the Grade 11 John McCrae Secondary School student, emotion evident in her eyes. “You always hope that you’re going to go a little faster in finals because it’s more exciting, and this was Olympic trials, so I was so much more excited than any other meet.
“I felt like I took off four seconds this morning, so I kind of told myself this evening, ‘Why not take off another four seconds?’
“I actually did it. I’m slightly surprised, but I’m really happy.”
Ravens of Carleton swim club representative Matt Hawes also got on the Olympic trials podium, but a bronze medal was little consolation for the 26-year-old since his 55.62 clocking in the men’s 100 m backstroke wasn’t good enough to send him to London.
“I’m quite upset,” Hawes said. “I guess I just fell short. Some days you have it and some days you don’t. I’m pretty upset, but I came to do my best, and that’s all you can do, really.”
Both Hawes and Seltenreich-Hodgson have their signature races remaining at the trials, which continue until Sunday. Hawes will race in the 200 m back on Saturday, while Seltenreich-Hodgson lines up for the event from which she earned her world junior championships bronze medal last year, the 200 m IM on Friday.
“I feel ready now,” added Seltenreich-Hodgson, who had been ranked 13th in the 400 IM and is rated fifth in the 200 IM. “I’m glad I got a final in this race so I could experience it before my big race. Now when I go into the 200 IM, I’m going to be a little bit calmer instead of kind of freaking out before it.”
The Olympic qualification system is fairly complex, but race winners from the Canadian team trials are generally assured a trip to London 2012. Second-place finishers who attain the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard time are also guaranteed a place, while second-place finishers meeting the ‘B’ standard play a wait-and-see game based on worldwide swim trials times.
Look for more coverage in next month’s Ottawa Sportspage
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