VICTORIA - Two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane, from Victoria, had the fastest time in the world this year — and he needed every second — to win an exciting men's 1,500-metre freestyle to conclude Swimming Canada's world championships trials on Saturday.
Five more swimmers added their names to Canada's roster for the FINA world championships to bring the total to 34. The worlds are July 19 to Aug. 4 in Barcelona, Spain.
Cochrane won his prime event in 14 minutes 59.73 seconds but received a big challenge from Will Brothers and Eric Hedlin, both of Victoria. Brothers charged Hedlin down on the final length to grab the second available spot for Barcelona by clocking second in 15:02.48 while Hedlin took third in 15:03.64.
Brothers and Hedlin are now the second and third fastest Canadians ever in the event after Cochrane.
Hedlin will look to make the team in the 10-kilometre open water swimming event later this month.
"I'm glad it looked smooth but it didn't feel that way," said Cochrane, well short of his Canadian record of 14:39.63 set in a silver medal performance at the Olympics last year. "Overall I've had a good weekend and to swim those three events (400-metre, 800-metre, 1500-metre freestyle) is difficult. But if we want to be tough that's what we have to do."
Brothers, 18, was somewhat of a surprise to earn his first national senior team berth, entering as the fourth seed with a qualifying time nearly eight seconds slower than No. 2 seed Hedlin.
"It's great to see the hard work pay off," said Brothers. "I wasn't aware we were on such a strong pace, I just put my head down and hoped for the best."
Other men to earn national team spots Saturday were Andrew Ford of Guelph, Ont., who came within a second of the Canadian record in the 200-metre individual medley; Chris Manning of Brantford, Ont., who edged Edmonton's Luke Peddie by 0.01 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle and Ottawa's Ashton Baumann in the 200-metre breaststroke.
The strong performances continued for the women as all eight available spots in Saturday's races were filled including two by a gutsy Alexa Komarnycky.
Komarnycky placed second and met the world qualifying standard in the 800-metre freestyle, then hopped out of the pool and did the same in the 200-metre individual medley less than 10 minutes later. She will be the only Canadian swimmer to compete in three individual events at the worlds, having qualified in the 400-metre individual medley earlier this week.
"The 200-metre individual medley is an event I really wanted to swim at worlds," said Komarnycky, who raced the 800-metre freestyle at the London Olympics last year. "It was my last race of the competition and I just wanted to go as hard as I could. To come close to my best time after just swimming the 800, is pretty satisfying."
Vancouver's Savannah King and Ottawa's Erica Seltenreich-Hodgson were the 800-metre freestyle and 200-metre individual medley winners. Also earning national team berths were Winnipeg's Chantal van Landeghem and Montreal's Victoria Poon in the 50-metre freestyle as well as Tera Van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., and Toronto's Martha McCabe in the 200-metre breaststroke.