Canadian swimmer Sydney Pickrem set a personal best on the way to collecting a silver medal Monday, covering the women’s 200-metre medley in two minutes 8.56 seconds at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
She finished 1.51 seconds behind American Sarah Douglass (2:07.05) and 45-100ths of a second ahead of 18-year-old Chinese athlete Yu Yiting at the Aspire Dome.
It’s Pickrem’s fifth career medal and first since 2019 at long-course worlds (50m pool length) to tie Brent Hayden for ninth all-time among Canadians.
“It definitely means a lot,” Pickrem told Swimming Canada. “I just feel really grateful for my support system that’s been by my side. “
She will swim the 200 breaststroke Thursday, giving Pickrem a chance to match her two individual medals from 2019 worlds in Gwangju, South Korea.
She beat Yiting with a 2:08.76 effort in Sunday’s semifinals, only 15-100ths off her previous best of 2:08.61 from the Canadian swim trials last March.
WATCH | Pickrem picks up world silver medal in women’s 200-metre IM:
Eleven months ago, Pickrem withdrew from worlds in Fukuoka, Japan with what she’d called “crippling anxiety and depression.”
Embracing depression, anxiety
“I definitely had bad years and bad days and struggle with my mental health throughout the years,” Pickrem told The Canadian Press in October. “I don’t think this was necessarily the first time. Sometimes I almost forget, once I’m doing well, to still check in and take care of myself.
“Someone asked me, ‘Is that all behind you?’ and I’m like depression and anxiety will never be behind me. It’s going to be something I always have for the rest of my life, but I embrace it and I want to tackle it and be the best me I can be.”
Four months ago, Pickrem won double gold at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, where the 26-year-old took the women’s 200 breaststroke and 200 medley in a Games record 2:09.04.
She is a dual Canadian-American citizen who was born in Florida and whose family is from Halifax.
Five days out from the Pan Am opening ceremony, the two-time Olympian won the women’s 200 IM at a World Cup meet in Athens.
Ashley McMillan of Penticton, B.C., was eighth in her first world final in 2:13.48.
“I’m really happy to get a chance to be in that final, so that’s something I’m taking away. But it definitely was a disappointing swim personally,” the 19-year-old said. “I’m ready to get back to work and work on correcting that for trials [May 13-19 in Montreal].”
Canadian pair into Tuesday finals
Also Monday, Canada’s Ingrid Wilm (100 backstroke) and Sophie Angus (100 breaststroke) advanced to their respective finals.
Wilm, who trains at Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club, won her semifinal heat (59.55) and qualified second overall behind American Claire Curzan (58.73) for Tuesday’s final at 11:51 a.m. ET.
“I was hoping for a faster time, but for me racing is always the highest form of training,” said the 25-year-old Wilm, who was fifth in last year’s world final. “It’s good to know that I need to work on my power a little bit.”
Angus, 24, earned the eighth and final spot for Tuesday’s 12:45 p.m. final with a time of 1:06.66, 4-100ths faster than Italy’s Benedetta Pilato. She was seventh at the turn but picked up the pace on the final few strokes to place fourth in her heat.
“I know that whole field goes out pretty fast and that’s not usually my strong suit. I just went into it knowing if I can stay close to them on the first 50 I have the back end speed to catch up,” Angus said.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux, Brittany MacLean preview aquatics worlds:
Canada’s women fall to Spain in water polo
Canada still has a chance to qualify for the women’s Olympic water polo tournament this summer, despite Monday’s 12-9 quarterfinal loss to Spain, the reigning Olympic and world silver medallists.
After Hungary downed the Netherlands in a penalty shootout, the Canadians needed Greece to beat Italy, and it delivered with a 14-12 decision.
So, Canada will secure a Summer Games berth in Paris if:
- It defeats Australia and Italy loses to the Netherlands in Wednesday’s classification matches at 4 a.m. ET and 6:30 a.m., respectively.
- If it beats Italy in a 5/6 placement match Friday at 8 a.m. should Canada and the Italians win Wednesday.
- It beats Italy in a 7-8 placement match Friday at 2 a.m. should Canada and the Italians each lose Wednesday.
Italy advances if it’s victorious Wednesday and Canada loses to the Australians.
“We had training camps in Australia so we know each other well,” Canada captain Emma Wright said. “They’re a strong team and always come out to fight, so we have to be ready.”
WATCH | Full coverage of Monday quarterfinal: Canada vs. Spain:
Axelle Crevier scored on three of her seven shots to pace the Canadian attack.
Shae La Roche had two goals, with Verica Bakoc, Elyse Lemay-Lavoie, Serena Browne and Marilia Mimides also scoring.
“Obviously disappointed with the loss. We wanted to come top four,” Wright said. “But I’m also proud that our team fought until the end. It showed we have a lot of fight and character.
Judith Forca converted five of her eight shots for Spain, which held a 12-6 edge in steals and had 12 turnovers to Canada’s 16.
The Spaniards took the play to Canada early, building a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and increasing the margin to 7-3 at the half.
Live streaming and extensive coverage of the aquatics worlds runs through Sunday on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
WATCH | Full coverage of Monday’s swimming finals from Doha, Qatar: