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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
The Sandpipers of Nevada have been churning out high-end distance swimmers consistently over the last 12 months, and yet another one emerged with a monstrous performance on Wednesday night at the Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria.
Abby Dunford, a Canadian-born swimmer who previously lived in Louisiana before moving to train under Ron Aitken with the Sandpipers, picked up a dominant victory in the women’s 1500 freestyle at the event, qualifying for her first major international team at the age of 16.
Coming in, Dunford’s personal best time sat nine seconds shy of the FINA ‘A’ cut, 16:29.57, having been 16:38.75 at the 2021 Canadian Olympic Trials last June.
In Victoria, Dunford dropped twice as much time as she needed to in order to attain the qualifying standard, knocking off a staggering 18 seconds to get down to 16:20.26 and win the race by nearly 14.
She now ranks fifth all-time among Canadian women in the event, having come into the week in the 16th position.
All-Time Canadian Performers, Women’s 1500 Freestyle (LCM)
Brittany Maclean, 15:57.15 – 2014
Brittany Reimer, 16:07.73 – 2005
Summer McIntosh, 16:15.19 – 2021
Olivia Anderson, 16:18.66 – 2016
Abby Dunford, 16:20.26 – 2022
Wednesday’s swim was only Dunford’s seventh long course 1500 free swim on record, and she’s also done six 1650 free swims in the short course yards pool over the last three years. Her fastest came back in December 2019, when she went 16:20.92 at the age of 13 (converting to 16:40 in LC).
It’s evident what Dunford and her Sandpiper teammates are doing under Aitken is working. In addition to Dunford’s breakout swim here, the Sandpipers have also seen recent success from the likes of Erica Sullivan, Katie Grimes and Bella Sims, who all qualified for the Olympic Games last summer (Sullivan won an individual silver medal), plus standout age group performances of late from swimmers like Ilya Kharun and Claire Weinstein.
And the next in that line is Dunford, who is now headed to Budapest for her first major championship appearance. On Sunday, she’ll have a chance to add the 800 free to her World Championship schedule, having come within two-tenths of the ‘A’ cut (8:37.90) opening up her 1500 (8:38.06, also a best time) a few nights ago.
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