Markus Thormeyer’s deck pass collection is about to get larger.
The 6-foot-6, 198-pound swimmer will add to his assemblage at the Tokyo Olympics, having been pre-selected to compete this summer in the men’s 200m backstroke for Canada.
A habit of grabbing the credential and bringing it home began when Thormeyer was younger, but gained significance as he advanced through the ranks — the 26-year-old keeps them in a box at home, occasionally taking them out to reminisce.
“Whenever I’m moving, or trying to declutter, I always open that box and I look at them and I’m like, ‘Oh, right. I remember all these now’,” said the 2018 and 2019 Canadian Male Swimmer of the Year, during a virtual media availability last week. “And it’s really fun, it brings back good memories.”
After three COVID related delays, the Canadian qualifiers ran from June 19-23 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Thormeyer added the 100m backstroke, and may still add the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay to his Olympic program. The top two competitors from each event qualified for Tokyo if they also beat ‘A’ qualifying times.
Also pre-nominated for the Games were Penny Oleksiak of Toronto; Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont.; Margaret MacNeil of London, Ont.; Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C.; and Sydney Pickrem of Halifax.
“Obviously it’s a little frustrating when you are training towards something, and the plan changes, but it’s not like that was unexpected,” said the star Canadian swimmer, on the topic of the constantly changing plans. “(You have to) do your best to be ready on whatever day.”
An advantage to the Games being postponed was that it allowed Canada’s exciting next generation of swimmers extra time to develop their skills, including 14-year-old Summer McIntosh. Ben Titley, head coach of the High Performance Centre- Ontario, was excited to see the youngster compete.
“The last time she was doing competitions, she would have been 12 years old,” said the coach about the teenager. “When you put that into perspective, it’s pretty strange.”
Don’t let her age fool you, the head coach of the 2016 Canadian Olympic swim team says McIntosh is one of the hardest working swimmers in the country, and extremely talented to boot.
“The reality is, that girl loves swimming,” said Titley.
McIntosh qualified for the 200m and 800m freestyle events at the trials, and will be one of the youngest athletes in Tokyo.
With the youthful talent present at the trials, Thormeyer was reminded of his uprising in the swim program, and knows as a veteran member of the squad, he consistently has to be at his best. He’s even started to sympathize with some of the senior swimmers who were in the program when he was an up-and-comer himself.
“It’s kind of inspiring and pushes me, because I don’t want to be beat by some younger swimmer,” said the veteran.“But also it’s really exciting to watch them go so fast.”
The internal competition between a mix of generations has both swimmer and coach excited for the future of a program that took home six medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“It’s good for the future of swimming in Canada,” said Thormeyer, “and I really want to see the swimming Canada develop further and reinforce our state as a powerhouse in international swimming.”
As for the present, 26 athletes – 16 female and 10 male – punched their ticket in the races this weekend to travel to Tokyo in roughly a months time, and represent their country in the pool.