MONTREAL -- After three days of competition, someone in the history of Canadian women’s swimming finally had an answer for Julia Wilkinson. Unfortunately for the field at the 2008 Canadian Trials, that person was Marianne Limpert and her answer came in the 2000 Olympics.
Texas A&M junior swimmer Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.) won her third Canadian national title in three days making her a perfect three-for-three at her country’s national championship and Olympic qualifying meet. Wilkinson’s time of 2:13.49 in the 200-meter individual medley ranks as the second-fastest in Canadian history behind only that of Marianne Limpert who swam a time of 2:13.44 which earned her fourth place at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Limpert was not only in the stands Friday night to witness the next Canadian great following in her footsteps, but also to present the gold medal to the young woman that is quickly becoming the talk of the meet.
“I remember swimming at trials in 2004 and the only final I made was the 200IM,” Wilkinson said. “It was so surreal sitting in the ready room. I was so star struck with Marianne Limpert and Joanne Malar and Liz Warden, so now to be in this situation, it's just weird. I would have been happier with a 13 low or 12 high, but it's kind of good that when you don't get everything you want, it keeps you motivated."
Wilkinson took the lead out early in the 200 IM and held more than a body length lead at the midpoint of the race. However 19-year-old Erica Morningstar, who finished third in the 100-meter breaststroke on Wednesday night, used her breaststroke advantage to trim down Wilkinson’s lead considerably. With only the freestyle leg to go, Canada’s top two female freestylers came down the final stretch with Wilkinson holding off Morningstar for her third straight Canadian title.
"When I hit the wall on the breast leg I knew that I had had such a good last 50 in the 200 free that it would be hard for Erica to catch me," Wilkinson said.
Canada’s top two sprint freestylers, Morningstar and Wilkinson, will go head to head for the final time tomorrow in the 100-meter freestyle. Morningstar owns the Canadian national record in the 100 free at 54.08, however Wilkinson is just two weeks removed from swimming one of the fastest 100-yard freestyle times in U.S. collegiate history (47.56), a time that converts to 54.42.