Penny Oleksiak's Olympic success no surprise to former swim coaches

It didn't take long for coaches at the Toronto Swim Club to realize Penny Oleksiak had the potential for greatness.   

She walked through the doors as a goofy, talented and very tall 12-year-old. 

"The first time I met Penny I thought she looked like an athlete, very tall for her age," said Bill O'Toole, who was Oleksiak's coach from age 12 until last September. "When you think of an athlete, she was an athlete." 

Dave Ling, who worked with Oleksiak as an assistant coach for four years, said the young swimmer made a great first impression.

"When she first came, we went out to Calgary for a junior nationals type meet and she did very well," he said. "We really had no idea who she was when we first got there, but we learned pretty quick."

Oleksiak found early success, breaking age group records when she was 12. 

"She really started humming at 13, 14 years old. She has always been a prodigy that we knew was going to be something special," Ling said. "I have seen a lot of talent come through the sport. I swam for 10 years, I have coached for eight and she is a talent that is pretty unique."

Even so, Ling said, it would have been a successful Olympics for Oleksiak if she had simply reached a few finals.

Now she stands alone in Canadian Olympic summer lore. 

The teenage sensation became the first Canadian summer athlete to win four medals at one Olympics after she captured gold in the women's 100-metre freestyle. The Toronto native tied American Simone Manuel in an Olympic-record time of 52.70 seconds. 

And there could be more to come. 

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