Katerine Savard, Taylor Ruck, Kennedy Goss, Penny Oleksiak, and prelims swimmer Alexia Zevnik are world champions after swimming the relay in 7 minutes, 33.89 seconds. It’s the first ever swimming gold medal Canada has won on home soil on the world stage.
The relay was 4.76 seconds ahead of second-place USA. Russia was third in 7:39.93.
The four women were more than ten seconds under the previous Canadian record of 7:45.04 set in 2009.
Oleksiak, an Olympic gold medallist, wasn’t surprised by the result.
“We knew the other teams would be strong, but we’re not really surprised we went as fast as we did,” said the 16-year-old from Toronto.
Canada was also a medallist in the 4×200-m freestyle relay in Rio, with Savard, Ruck, Goss and Oleksiak among the six swimmers who returned home with bronze medals.
“We’re trying to show people that we didn’t just go fast at the Olympics, we’re continuing to do it at the world stage,” Oleksiak said.
Ruck, 16, had the fastest 200-m split of the race, completing her portion of the race in a blazing 1:51.69. It was the freestyler’s second medal of the competition; she won bronze in the 200-m freestyle on Tuesday.
“It was amazing to share this experience with this amazing relay team,” Ruck said.
“To be world champions it’s incredible,” Savard added.
Sarah Darcel of the High Performance Centre – Victoria, originally an alternate for the team, swam another personal best, this time in her first senior international final.
Her time of 2:08.59 earned her sixth place in the women’s 200-m individual medley.
“I was anxious all day and my morning swim was pretty good so I was kind of just going into it like, whatever happens, happens,” said Darcel, 17. “Having the semi in the 100 (IM on Thursday), I kind of knew what to expect but it’s still an amazing experience and completely different.
“It’s amazing being here on home soil. My first big senior team international meet happens to be in Canada, which is pretty amazing. Everything is pretty familiar and it’s cool to have so many fans in the stands cheering ‘Go Darcel!’ ”
Canada’s other finalists were Kylie Masse, who finished eighth in the 50-m backstroke (26.46) in front of her hometown crowd, and Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., also eighth in the 100-m breaststroke.
“I was hoping for a little bit better but it’s Saturday night and I’m here swimming for Canada, representing my country. It doesn’t get better than that,” Nicol said.
Masse took a silver medal in the 100 back earlier in the meet.
“I was hoping to be a bit faster,” said the 20-year-old, who lowered her own Canadian record to 26.34 in her semifinal Friday. “I was a bit slower tonight but that comes with the 50. It’s such a short race and can kind of go up and down. One little mistake and what not. I have things to work on for the future and I’m looking forward to it.”
Earlier in the night Savard advanced to the final of the women’s 100-m butterfly. Her time of 56.93 was good for fifth position heading into Sunday’s final.
Calgary’s Yuri Kisil of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver finished 11th in the men’s 100-m freestyle with a time of 47.42 in his semifinal.
Canada has five medals heading into the final day of the world short-course championships, its most at this competition since Athens 2000.
Canada’s best ever medal total was eight in Hong Kong in 1999, where the team set nine national records. Saturday’s relay gold was the 15th Canadian record performance at these championships.