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Canadian swimmers sink Russians in exciting relay bronze at Summer Universiade  

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NAPLES, Italy – Canadian swimmers saved their best for last on Wednesday as they edged Russia to win a dramatic bronze medal in the women’s 4×100-m medley relay, their last race of the 2019 Summer Universiade.

Ingrid Wilm of the UBC Thunderbirds led off and had Canada in third with a 1:01.04 backstroke leg. Nina Kucheran of Sudbury, Ont., on the breaststroke and Hannah Genich of Cobourg, Ont. on the butterfly held Canada in fourth place, leaving anchor Ainsley McMurray of Montreal to make up at least 0.17 seconds on the freestyle.

‘’All I could think about was that third place on the last length,’’ she said.

McMurray had a reaction time of just 0.02 on her relay takeover, on the way to a split of 54.78 to catch and pass Mariia Baklakova and vault Canada back into third.

‘’It was the best 100 free I’ve ever had,” McMurray said. ‘’I knew I had a stronger back half than the Russian and I just thought to myself, ‘Girl, you’re going down’.

The U.S. took the gold in three minutes and 59.77 seconds. Japan followed in 4:00.07 and the Canadians were third in 4:03.32, nipping the Russians who clocked 4:03.55 for fourth.

Wilm said that she and her teammates didn’t feel under great pressure to get Canada on the medal board. They had ranked third as well in the morning preliminaries.

‘’It was time to just let ‘er rip,’’ she said. ‘’I just trusted myself and my strategy. I was strong at the right moment. It puts us in a fighting mood for next season when we’ll chase Olympic berths.’’

Canadian team head coach Derrick Schoof of UBC says the women deserved the medal.

‘’It felt great for everyone,’’ he said. ‘’We fought hard all week and came close a few times with a fourth and a few fifths. All four had been (individual) finalists so I knew it was in us to get that medal. I just told them before, there’s a chance to do something special.’’

Canada ends the swimming portion of the Games with one bronze, six top-five results and 11 finals.

Wilm came the closest to an individual podium with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 100-m backstroke on Sunday. She clocked 1:00.77 and was just 0.34 seconds out of third. Wilm was also seventh in the 50-m backstroke.

Back in 2015, Kylie Masse represented Canada at the Universiade before winning an Olympic medal in 2016 and the world title in 2017.

“Like me, Kylie is a backstroker so I actually thought about that all week, how these Games were a springboard for her career.’’

Olympic medallist Kennedy Goss of Toronto made a team-best six finals. She was in the two fifth-place women’s relays (4×200-m and 4×100-m free), was also fifth Wednesday in the 400-m freestyle and 100-m backstroke, seventh in the 200-m backstroke and eighth in the 200-m freestyle.

Other Canadian finalists over the week were Sophie Angus with fifth Wednesday in the 50-m breaststroke, McMurray seventh in the 100-m free and Genich eighth in the 100-m butterfly.

Besides Goss, the other swimmers in the two fifth-place women’s relays were Charis Huddle of Cambridge, Ont., Sarah Watson of Winnipeg and McMurray and in the 4×100-m free; McMurray, Marit Anderson of Calgary and Watson in the 4×200-m free.

Full results: 30th Summer Universiade – Napoli 2019 – Main Results