Katerine Savard to lead Canadian swim team devoid of Olympic stars into aquatics worlds

Summer McIntosh, Maggie Mac Neil, Kylie Masse and Penny Oleksiak were not part of Canada Swimming's 26-member team announced Tuesday for the Feb. 2-18 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar. Katerine Savard, a three-time Olympian, leads the squad.

3-time Olympian, fresh off 2-medal showing at Pan Am Games, headed to 13th worlds

Canadian female swimmer embraces a teammate in the pool following a gold-medal victory at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.
Katerine Savard, right, is scheduled to appear at her 13th World Aquatics Championships (long and short course combined) in February. The 30-year-old from Pont-Rouge, Que., headlines Canada's 26-member team announced Tuesday by Swimming Canada. (Fernando Vergara/Associated Press)

Olympians Summer McIntosh, Maggie Mac Neil, Kylie Masse and Penny Oleksiak were not part of Canada Swimming's 26-member team announced Tuesday for the Feb. 2-18 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Leading the squad is Katerine Savard, a three-time Olympian preparing for her 13th world championships.

"I'm super happy to represent Canada for another world championships," the 30-year-old said in a statement released by Swimming Canada. "Every competition is a new opportunity to test what I'm working on going towards Olympic trials [May 13-19 in Montreal]."

Doha will represent the seventh long course (50-metre) world championships for the native of Pont-Rouge, Que., who won 4x100 freestyle relay gold and 200 free relay bronze at the just-completed Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.

In July, she raced the 50 and 100m butterfly events, plus the 100 and 200 free relays, but didn't reach the medal podium at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

"I've been close to getting back into the top 8 from last summer," she said, "and I'm hoping I can prove to myself that I can still be one of the best butterfly swimmers in the world."

WATCH | Savard wins Pan Am Games gold in women's 4x100m freestyle relay:

GOLD MEDAL: Canada wins women's 4x100m freestyle relay at Pan Am Games

6 months ago
Duration 5:25
The Canadian team of Mary-Sophie Harvey, Brooklyn Douthwright, Maggie Mac Neil and Katerine Savard swim to gold in Chile.

Among Canada's 16 returnees from worlds, Savard is targeting a fourth Olympic appearance in Paris next summer.

"When I was young, I thought to myself, I love swimming so much that I want to stay as long as I can," she said this past summer following a training session in Montreal.

Those who have followed Savard's path through international waters have nothing but respect for her longevity and the lasting impression she's made on the Canadian swimming program.

"She has carried the ball for over a decade," CBC Sports' longtime swimming analyst Byron MacDonald said this past summer. "I think she's a role model for swimmers who make it into their late twenties. Her polish and professionalism are well respected. It seems like she is always there when Swimming Canada needs her."

Canada earned 6 medals at 2023 worlds

Savard has undergone a metamorphosis from teenaged star, and butterfly specialist, to reliable team player — a member of the supporting cast for the next generation of headliners like McIntosh, Mac Neil and Oleksiak.

Canada picked up six medals — two gold (McIntosh), two silver, and two bronze — in Fukuoka, down from 11 the previous year in Budapest, Hungary.

Eight Canadians will compete at their first world championships: Sienna Angove, Ashley McMillan, Laila Oravsky, Sarah Fournier, Antoine Sauvé and Blake Tierney.

The 21-year-old Tierney from Saskatoon is hoping to build on the silver and four bronze he earned at the Pan Am Games.

"I had a great time and learned a lot at Pan Ams and can't wait to race for Canada again," he said.

Raben Dommann, who swam open water at worlds in 2019, and Tessa Cieplucha will also debut in the world long-course pool. Cieplucha was a 2021 Olympian and has two short-course worlds under her belt.

McIntosh won gold medals in the 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly at this year's worlds. The 16-year-old's four career victories at the event are the most of any Canadian.

WATCH | McIntosh cruises to 400m IM gold at aquatics worlds:

Canada's Summer McIntosh defends her world title in the women's 400 individual medley

9 months ago
Duration 9:40
Toronto teenager Summer McIntosh easily wins gold in the women's 400 individual medley with a championship record of 4:27.11.

Last month, Mac Neil won five times in Chile, the most by a Canadian at a single Pan Am Games. The 23-year-old from London, Ont., was also a member of the mixed relay teams that picked up silver and bronze, the seven medals an all-time best among Canadian swimmers with Mary-Sophie Harvey.

The 27-year-old Masse, a four-time Olympic medallist, was part of Canada's bronze-medal effort in the women's 100 medley relay in Fukuoka and is tied with Oleksiak for the most world championship long-course medals with nine.

Oleksiak, 23, didn't compete at this year's worlds, choosing to focus on her rehab from left knee surgery in August 2022.

The Toronto native, who now trains in California, rose to stardom at 16 when she won four medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, including gold in the 100 free. She added three medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 to make her the most decorated Olympian in the country with seven medals.

Canada's aquatics worlds roster

WOMEN

  • Sienna Angove
  • Sophie Angus
  • Tessa Cieplucha
  • Sarah Fournier
  • Emma Finlin
  • Ella Jansen
  • Ashley McMillan
  • Emma O'Croinin
  • Laila Orvasky
  • Sydney Pickrem
  • Taylor Ruck
  • Katerine Savard
  • Rebecca Smith
  • Ingrid Wilm

MEN

  • Javier Acevedo
  • James Dergousoff
  • Raben Dommann
  • Hau-Li Fan
  • Édouard Fullum-Huot
  • Collyn Gagne
  • Ruslan Gaziev
  • Eric Hedlin
  • Finlay Knox
  • Antoine Sauvé
  • Blake Tierney
  • Lorne Wigginton

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