COLUMBIA — Sunday morning, Katy Murdoch, 23, of the Canadian National Team, clocked a 2:14.86 in the 200 meter backstroke. The time put her more than three seconds ahead of her closest competitor, 14-year-old American Kylie Stewart.
In the championship final of that event at the Missouri Grand Prix on Sunday night, Stewart jumped out to an early lead and then pulled away from a charging Murdoch in the final meters to earn a gold medal.
Murdoch was just as impressed with Stewart as everyone else.
"That was awesome," Murdoch said. "It actually caught me a bit off guard because she was out right from the start, and she was ahead. But it's really great to see all of the young kids coming up."
Even Stewart was impressed with her own swim.
"I was not expecting it," Stewart said. "We're in the middle of training, so I didn't expect to swim that fast."
Stewart, who trains at Dynamo Swim Club in Georgia, said her success comes from swimming long distances at practice. She said she learned how to swim when she was 6 and started swimming year-round when she was 9.
Stewart's swim of 2:13.88 earned her more than just a gold medal. The time qualified her for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, in which she plans to participate.
"I'm just hoping to make a final (at trials) and then go from there," Stewart said.