Marlins’ McDonald looks for second swim at Trials

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – Abigail McDonald of the Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club is out to earn a second swim in her events at this weekend’s Canadian Swimming Trials at Victoria.

“I’d really like to make B or A finals there and just to get best times and have a good learning experience there,” McDonald said after a training session at the Gryphon Aquatics Centre. “I think it’s probably reaching high, but I think I can do it. There’s A and B finals, so I should be able to make at least B. That would be really fun if I was able to do that.”

The 16-year-old qualified in three events for her first Trials – the 200-metre breaststroke, 200m individual medley and 400m IM.

“My best strokes are breast and back, but I need to be good at free and fly as well to swim my IMs,” she said.

She got ready for the meet with a week of hard training during the March break. She kept that training going for a couple of weeks after that before easing off to be at her peak at Victoria.

“I’m happy with how it’s going,” she said of her season. “In December I went to OJI, Ontario Junior Internationals, and that was my first time there. It was really exciting because it was international junior competition as 18-and-under people from all over the world could come and swim. That was really fun and a good experience for me.”

She got second swims there as she was the youngest of the eight who qualified for the A final in the 200m breast. She placed sixth with a time of 2:28.54. McDonald was also third in the B final of the 200m IM with a clocking of 2:17.61.

Last year McDonald qualified for the Canadian Senior Nationals, but didn’t compete at the meet.

“AGN (Age Group Nationals) was in Calgary and the week after Senior Nationals were in Edmonton,” she said. “It would have been a long two weeks out there and I would’ve been the only one going from my club, too. I just wanted to go to AGN with my whole team.”

While McDonald won the girls’ 16’s 200m breast and 400m IM at the Ontario spring long course championships last month, it was a performance with the Marlins’ 400m freestyle relay team with Katie Berwick, Darcey Stewart and Kristen Quigley that she says is the highlight of her season so far.

“We weren’t really expecting to medal or anything like that, but we got a bronze medal,” McDonald said. “It was really exciting and I’d never really experienced that with a relay before. It was really fun to share that with them.”

While relays are definitely a team event, McDonald feels they aren’t that much different from competing in an individual event.

“You’re still swimming your own race, but you definitely feel – we were really excited and we were really pumped up. I guess there’s just a better energy because you’re all together,” she said. “Everybody tends to go faster in the relays.”

You also have three teammates you don’t want to let down.

“There’s that,” she said.

McDonald will be joined at the meet by clubmates Emma Ball (women’s 50m fly, 50m & 100m back, 50m free), Roxanna Ramirez (women’s 800m & 1,500m free) and Samantha Stratford (women’s 200m & 400m IM, 100m fly).

The four-day meet is to start Thursday.