Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s most decorated Olympian, is taking her training south of the border to California to prepare for the Paris Olympics.
Oleksiak has joined the Mission Viejo pro group based out of the MVN 360 Performance Centre, about 80 kilometres southeast of Los Angeles, with less than 11 months to go until the next Games in an attempt to return to peak form for what would be her third Olympic appearance.
“We are pleased to see Penny refocus on swimming after facing many challenges over the last year,” John Atkinson told CBC Sports in a statement.
Atkinson, Swimming Canada high performance director, said Oleksiak will continue to have the full support of the national sport organization to prepare for the swimming trials set for next May in Montreal.
“This includes medical and integrated support team services, which have been available to her at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, in partnership with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and Canadian Olympic Committee,” Atkinson said.
Oleksiak, 23, becomes another high-profile Canadian swimmer to have left the high performance centre in Ontario to train abroad – other swimmers training elsewhere include Kylie Masse, Josh Liendo, Taylor Ruck and Sydney Pickrem.
The majority of Oleksiak’s career has been spent training in her hometown of Toronto.
“We look forward to watching Penny return to competition in the water, and wish her all the best as she works towards a return to the national team,” Atkinson said.
Rose to stardom
Oleksiak rose to stardom at 16 years old when she won four medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, including gold in the 100-metre.
She added three more medals at the Tokyo Olympics to make her the most decorated Olympian in the country with seven medals.
Oleksiak is tied with Masse as Canada’s most decorated World Aquatic Championships swimmer with nine long course medals – all of them have been won on relays.
Oleksiak has only competed once in 2023, swimming in the Barcelona leg of the Mare Nostrum Tour in May.
She swam the 50-metre butterfly before posting a time of 56.08 in the 100m freestyle. Those were her first two swims in nine months after rehabbing from a knee injury.
The hope was that she would be able to compete for Canada at the world championships in Fukuoka, Japan this past July but it was announced at the beginning of June she was withdrawing from the competition.
“It’s definitely just been a year of learning and it’s been fun to learn about my body and learn how to heal it quicker and everything,” Oleksiak said back in June. “I’m just overcoming that injury now and slowly getting back into training and then leading up to 2024.”
Oleksiak has been an integral and pivotal part of Canada’s relay success at international competitions for years and should she be able to return to form will once again feature prominently in the relays in Paris.