Tyler Mrak swimming backstroke at 2015 Can Am Para-swimming. Championships

Swimmer Mrak battles up and down week to make Rio

Canadian record earned a spot in Brazil

UPDATE: This story was from the Paraswim trials in April. Mrak will be representing Canada in Brazil. 

TORONTO – Despite a disappointing run on the day before the Canadian Paralympic swim team was selected, a 17-year-old is going to Rio after a record setting run earlier in the week.

Tyler Mrak, a Surrey, B.C. native, was officially named to Canada’s swim team for the Paralympics on Sunday night, an announcement that came just days after his history-making night.

Mrak set a new Canadian Paralympic record in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB4-14 multi-class on Day 3 of the six-day competition, swimming 1:15.1, smashing his old personal best by almost four seconds.

Three days later, he was still relishing in that moment.

“It feels pretty great,” said Mrak, Saturday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. “I came here with the goal of setting that record. My goal was to get the best time for the rest of the meet.”

Tyler Mrak at 2015 Can Am Para-swimming Championships.
Tyler Mrak at 2015 Can Am Para-swimming Championships. (Courtesy Swimming Canada/Vaughn Ridley)

Now that he has officially made the team, Mrak can stop thinking about the prospect of going to Rio and focus on his swimming.

“It’s kind of a game actually,” he said. “Who’s going to make the team and who’s not going to make the team, but none of us really know right now. It’s best to just put that aside and focus on your race in the water.”

The idea of representing Canada at the Paralympics may have been on his mind on Saturday night.

Mrak swam a 1:12.51 in the men’s 100-metre backstroke S1-2, S6-14 multi-class, almost a minute and a half slower than the personal best he set at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am games that earned him a bronze medal.

Right off the start, he knew he was not going to have his best run.

“I don’t think I went out fast enough,” he said. “I didn’t get the tempo going on the way out, so on the way back it was really hard to continue the speed. The start just wasn’t very good.”

Fortunately for Mrak, he was able to turn his performance around on Sunday.

In the men’s 100m freestyle, he swam a 0:59.54, almost two seconds faster than his seed time. Hours after that run Mrak was officially named to the Canadian 2016 Rio Paralympic swim team.

Ultimately, he was able to overcome the pressure of making the national team and focus on swimming.

“It’s not as much pressure as like a four-time Paralympian who is expected to do well in every single race, that’s kind of tough,” he said. “I have a bit more leeway.”

 

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