By Emma Zhao
Julie Brousseau swam circles around the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships and propelled herself into Olympic team consideration with a sparkling seven-medal performance from Sept. 4-9 in Israel.
The 17-year-old led her team with her two-silver, five-bronze haul and contributed to more than half of the 13 Canadian medals won at the junior worlds – good for a third-place showing in the nation’s standings.
“I’m feeling very happy about my performances,” underlines Brousseau, who earned three individual medals and four more in relay events.
Brousseau won a silver medal in the 200-metre freestyle – finishing just .01 away from gold in a time of 1:58.10 – and bronze in both the 200 and 400 m individual medleys.
She says the relay races were her favourite memories from the championships, where she earned silver in the 4×100-metre medley relay and bronze in the 4×200-metre free, 4×100 free and 4×100 mixed.
“I was really excited to get to race on the relays with the other Canadians,” signals Brousseau. “Getting to hangout with the friends that I’ve made from different spots around Canada was really fun.”
The Canadian team gathered in Spain for training a week before the world juniors, which gave Brousseau a chance to get to know the other girls on her team. She says her expectations going into the competition were very straightforward.
“I just wanted to have fun and swim fast,” recalls Brousseau, who has verbally committed to the University of Florida. “Hopefully make some finals and maybe get some medals, too.”
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Brousseau entered nine events and raced a total of 16 times during the six-day junior worlds while swimming 10 new personal-best times.
It was a heavy workload and a heavy medal collection, though neither was new for the athlete who equalled the record for most medals won at a Canada Summer Games with 11 last year in Niagara.
“She did a great job of managing all those races,” highlights Scott Faithfull, who began coaching Brousseau when she joined his Nepean-Kanata Barracudas from Swim Ottawa so she could continue to train as a high-performance athlete during COVID.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” he adds. “But she works as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen and she really just gets in and gets the job done.”
Brousseau, who has verbally committed to swim in the NCAA for the University of Florida, will soon get the chance to join the senior Canadian swim team for the Oct. 20-Nov. 5 Pan American Games in Chile.
Brousseau’s time of 4:38.45 in the 400 m IM, her first race of the world juniors, put her among the top-10 Canadian performances of all-time in the event, regardless of age.
Her time also met the Olympic qualifying standard, though that doesn’t guarantee the Grade 12 Nepean High School student will be going to the Paris 2024 Games at all.
Canada is very deep in the women’s medley events, so securing one of the two available Canadian entries in the discipline will be her greater challenge.
World record holder Summer McIntosh is untouchable, two-time Olympian Sydney Pickrem will be a big challenger and Brousseau even had another Canadian finish ahead of her in that event at the world juniors (Ella Jansen won silver).
The Canadian Olympic swim trials will be held next May in Montreal, though Faithfull notes that the recipe to reach ambitious goals remains unchanged regardless of the stage.
“Things don’t happen by chance,” he indicates. “By doing all the background work and having that kind of confidence, that’s how she’ll get what she wants.”
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