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Record-breaking performances highlight exciting night of racing

Olympic and Para-swimming Trials –

By Jim Morris

TORONTO – Kylie Masse’s record-breaking swim in the women’s 100-metre backstroke was one of the highlights of an exciting Wednesday at the Olympic and Para-swimming trials, presented by RBC.

Five swimmers made the nomination standard for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. There was drama in women’s 400-m individual medley as Sydney Pickrem, Emily Overholt and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson battled for the two Olympic spots. Pickrem won the race with Overholt second. Both swam under the Olympic qualifying time.

Javier Acevedo of Toronto became the first man to reach the Olympic qualifying standard when he won the 100-m backstroke.

Masse’s time of 59.06 was the second fastest in the world this year and lowered the mark she had set earlier in the day. Dominique Bouchard of North Bay, Ont., finished second in 59.96 and also qualified for the team.

“Today was special,” said Masse, who swam 59.17 seconds in the morning to break the old mark of 59.68 set by Sinead Russell in July 2011. “I don’t think this morning I was expecting that. I was shocked to see what I went.

“It was more incentive to go faster and see what I could do tonight in the finals. The atmosphere and environment makes it even more exciting.”

Bouchard said her experience of finishing sixth at last year’s world championships helped earn her a spot on the Olympic team.

“I missed the national team pretty much all the times before that,” said the 24-year-old. “I’m like a wine, I’m getter better with age.”

“I missed the national team pretty much all the times before that. I’m like a wine, I’m getter better with age.” – Dominique Bouchard

The three-way fight in the 400-IM ended with Pickrem touching the wall in four minutes, 38.34 seconds. Overholt, who won a bronze medal in the event at last year’s world championships, was timed at 4:38.50.

“It’s been such a stressful year,” said Pickrem, who attends Texas A&M. “Going to university for the first year and trying to adjust to the training. I was a nervous wreck almost all year.

“To finally make it, and finally say I am going to Rio is outstanding.”

Overholt heaved a sigh of relief after the race.

“I’m so happy it turned out OK,” said the West Vancouver, B.C., native.  “I would have liked to be a little bit faster, but the most important thing is I made the team.

“I’m really happy to get over the line.”

Acevedo said going to Rio is a dream come true

“It’s been an up-and-down season but this one of the biggest highs of my life,” said the 18-year-old.

“When you are a little kid starting off you don’t think you’re going to be the first (man) to qualify. Now I am. It’s unbelievable.”

Russell Wood of Calgary finished second in 54.47 seconds, just over the qualifying time of 54.36.

Mack Darragh of Oakville, Ont., won the men’s 200-m butterfly but his time of 1:58.22 was above the qualifying time of 1:56.97.

Four Para-swimmers set Canadian records.

Tammy Cunnington of Red Deer, Alta., won the S3 50-m breaststroke in 1:16.28. That lowered the Canadian record time of 1:16.44 she set during the morning heats.

“It’s been a good start to the trials,” she said.

“It was more nerve wracking tonight after I had gone so well in the morning. I put what I could into the water.”

Jonathan Dieleman of Quick, B.C., won the men’s S3 50-m in 50.93. He had won the morning heats in 50.39 seconds, knocking 2.70 seconds off the record he set in January. He dedicated the race to his recently deceased grandfather.

Maxime Rousselle, an S14 swimmer from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., won the multi-class 100-m breaststroke in 1:11.44, setting a Canadian record for his class. Tyler Mrak, a visually impaired racer from Aldergrove, B.C., set a Canadian record in his S13 class with a time of 1:15.19.

Katarina Roxon, a S8 swimmer from Kippens, N.L., won the multi-class 100-m breaststroke in 1:24.25.

The trials, which end Sunday, have attracted 762 swimmers from 187 clubs cross Canada, the United States and other parts of the world. The competition is being held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the same pool that hosted last year’s Pan American and Parapan Am Games.

All finals sessions will be webcast live on CBCSports.ca beginning at 6:45 p.m. ET.  For full results and more information visit www.swimming.ca/trials.

Due to the nature of the selection criteria for the Para-swimming team, all nominations will be announced after finals on Sunday.