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Oleksiak, McIntosh and Pickrem headed to semis at Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games –

TOKYO – Canadians Penny Oleksiak and Summer McIntosh, placed second in their respective heats to qualify second and fifth for the women’s 200-m freestyle semifinals with personal best times in Monday evening’s heats at the Olympic Games.

Oleksiak chasing her second medal of these Games and a Team Canada record sixth career Olympic Games podium finish, clocked 1:55.38 edged by American star Katie Ledecky first in 1:55.28.

“It’s faster than I’ve been all year so no complaints,” said Oleksiak, part of Canada’s 4X100 freestyle relay which won silver on Sunday. “These Olympics seem different for me this year because I’m here to get a job done.”

The 14-year-old McIntosh fresh from an amazing fourth place finish in the 400-m freestyle on Monday morning clocked 1:56.11.

“I completely moved forward as if the 400 never happened,” said McIntosh. “I felt really good and refreshed so I’m really happy with it. Now I want to move up some more in the semis.”

Both swimmers are based at the High Performance Centre- Ontario in Toronto.

Three-time world championship medallist Sydney Pickrem (HPC-Ontario/Toronto) also advanced to the semis placing third in her women’s 200-m individual medley heat in 2:10.13 to rank sixth overall. Bailey Andison of Smith Falls, Ont., was 18th overall (2:12.52) and does not advance.

“I didn’t really turn my brain on until the last 50 then I realized I better get my hand on the wall,” said Pickrem, sixth in the event at Rio 2016. “Getting through the prelims and semis in the 200 IM is hard work and you gotta know how to race it and figure it out. It’s a first step and we’ll go from there.”

Sixteen-year-old Katrina Bellio of Mississauga, Ont., made her Olympic debut competing in the first-ever women’s 1500-m freestyle race at the Games. She smashed her personal best by more than five second clocking 16:24.37 to win heat 1 and briefly hold the Olympic record.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of history,” said Bellio, who ranked 21st overall and did not advance to Wednesday’s final. “To be swimming at the Olympics at such a young age is incredible. The 1500 for me is the perfect race at the perfect distance.”

The semis in the 200 free and 200 IM are on Tuesday morning (Monday evening in Canada) Also, on Tuesday morning (Monday evening in Canada) two-time defending world champion Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., goes for gold in the women’s 100-m backstroke

Action gets underway Monday evening at 9:30 p.m. (ET).

Full schedule and results: