Ladysmith’s Faith Knelson stormed her way to four medals, including two golds and a pair of silvers, while also helping a Canadian women’s relay set a junior world record at the 6th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis.
Smiling ear to ear on the podium, the 16-year-old captured Canada’s first piece of hardware on Day 2 of the meet last Thursday.
“I was just going out there trying to get on the podium. That was the ultimate goal,” said Knelson, who is part of the Swimming Canada’s NextGen program in Victoria.
“I tried to follow what my coach was telling me to do, stay in my own lane, focus on my own swim. I knew it was a tight race, I just focused on my last two strokes and tried to get my hands on the wall.”
Knelson was ranked 3rd in the 50 breaststroke heading into the six-day competition at the Indiana University Natatorium pool but dipped under the 31 second barrier for the first time in her young career to finish in a time of 30.91.
The United States’ Emily Weiss finished in 30.78 for gold and Ireland’s Mona Lucille McSharry took bronze in a time of 30.97.
Knelson’s followed that performance up with a brilliant showing in the 100 breaststroke on Saturday night to clock 1:07.47 in the final – nearly a full second under her previous best time heading into the competition.
On Sunday morning, the former Ladysmith Chemainus Orcas swimmer swam the lead-off leg of the women’s 4×100 metre freestyle relay to help the Canadian team make the final where they earned gold and set a world junior record.
All eyes were on the Canadian women again on Monday night to complete the sweep of the relays in the 4×100 metre medley.
The team of Jade Hannah, Knelson, Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck didn’t disappoint as they captured Canada’s fifth relay gold of the competition in a world junior record of 3:58.38.
“This relay means so much to me. I train with Jade every single day and to have my club teammate on the podium with me and these two girls on the podium with me means so much,” Knelson said. “I’m really happy we pulled through. It was a hard meet and we knew today was going to be a hard day and everyone was going to be tired, but it was good stuff.”
Knelson also placed 6th in the 200 metre breaststroke on Monday.
The competition attracted over 1,000 of the best girls aged 14-17 and boys age 15-17 from 100 different countries.
The Canadians captured 15 medals which was the best performance ever at a FINA world junior championship.