BIRMINGHAM, England – Joshua Liendo earned his first major victory but there was no time to celebrate initially as he sparked a three-medal night for Canadian swimmers at the Commonwealth Games.
Para swimmer Aurélie Rivard of C.N. Région de Québec/St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., added a silver in the women’s SM10 200-m individual medley and the mixed medley relay squad was also second in its 4×100-m race.
Canada now has 15 medals in the swimming competition, which ends Wednesday, at five gold, five silver and five bronze. The five gold are Canada’s most since the 1990 Games in Auckland, New Zealand.
The 19-year-old Liendo from Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre-Ontario clocked 51.24 for the victory for his first individual medal of the Games and third overall. James Guy of England was the runner-up for a second straight Games tying with Australia’s Matthew Temple in 51.40.
With a 50-m freestyle semifinal immediately after, Liendo was all business after his victory.
‘’When I finished, I tried to calm down and lock it,’’ said Liendo, a triple medallist at the world championships in June, including a bronze in the 100 fly. ‘’I just had a great race but now it’s done. I needed to have another good race and hopefully get a good lane for that final as well.’’
Liendo admits he feels the effect of back-to-back major meets.
‘’I’m not going to lie I’ve been feeling it this week and I’m a little sore,’’ he said. ‘’I definitely have some stuff to learn with preparation and bouncing back from another meet but I handled my myself OK here.’’
Finlay Knox, HPC-Ontario/Okotoks, Alta., took seventh spot in 52.20.
“I was happy with that,’’ said Knox. ‘’The goal here is to swim faster than at worlds and progress through our prelims, semis and final. I was right on my semi time but faded a bit at the end.’’
It took a Games record by Australia to beat the Canadians in the 4×100-m mixed medley relay. The Aussies clocked 3:41.30 followed by Canada at 3:43.98 and England at 3:44.03. The Canadian swimmers in the final were Kylie Masse, James Dergousoff, Maggie Mac Neil and Ruslan Gaziev, who charged down Freya Anderson of England for the silver.
‘’This was our first time competing as a relay team so it was super special,’’ said Masse, with her third silver medal of the Games. ‘’The mixed event is a really unique experience, so just trusting in the team we have here and playing to our strengths is what we did tonight.’’
In the preliminaries, the Canadian swimmers were Javier Acevedo, Sophie Angus, Patrick Hussey and Rebecca Smith. They will also receive a medal.
Rivard, a five-time Paralympic champion, finished in 2:34.29 behind Australian Jasmine Greenwood of Australia first in 2:33.29. Katarina Roxon, Aqua Races/Kippens, N.L., was sixth in in 2:43.98.
‘’I made a few mistakes and I’m a bit disappointed in the outcome,’’ said Rivard. ‘’I’m not used to focusing on just one race at a competition so it was a bit weird. So I put a lot of pressure on the one night, when I’m used to racing every single day.’’
Roxon is competing at her four Commonwealth Games and is also a four-time Paralympian.
‘’It was really fun and I enjoyed the experience,’’ she said. ‘’For the short period of time I’ve worked on the IM I did basically what I did at worlds.’’
In the semifinals, Masse, the world champion in the event, was the fastest in the prelims and semis in the 50 back with a Games record 27.47 on her second swim.
Liendo clocked the second fastest time in the 100-m freestyle clocking 21.92 to advance to Wednesday’s final. Stephen Calkins of the University of Calgary Swim Club ranked 12th in a personal best 22.66.
‘’It was my first time under 23 seconds so that was nice,’’ said Calkins, who planned to retire before being called on as an injury replacement and went on to notch three personal bests and earn two relay bronze medals. ‘’I didn’t expect to make the semi. I just wished I had a slightly better touch and could have snuck into the final.’’
“Day 5 of finals and the team are showing great resilience to continue racing at the highest level,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “That’s down to their professionalism and that of all our support staff, management and coaches.”
Other Canadian finalists were:
– Katrina Bellio, Etobicoke Swim Club/Mississauga, Ont., and Mabel Zavaros, Markham Aquatic Club/Burlington, Ont., fifth and seventh in the 800 freestyle in 8:42.07 and 8:53.50.
– Alec Elliot, C.N. Région de Québec/Kitchener, Ont., fifth in the S10 100 fly in 59.38.
– Smith, University of Calgary/Red Deer, Alta., and Katerine Savard CAMO/Pont-Rouge Que., seventh and eighth in the 100-m freestyle in 55.09 and 55.22.
– and Zavaros again with eighth in the 200-m butterfly in 2:12.23.
‘’It was a lot harder than the prelim swim,’’ said Bellio. “But every time I get into the pool, I’m learning a lot and I have a lot to take away from racing here.’’
Zavaros’ schedule wasn’t friendly at these Games.
‘’I was trying to be tough through it with the schedule I had,’’ said Zavaros. ‘’I wasn’t really happy with the times but it was exposure to international experience which I think is important.’’
Smith was also feeling the effects of an intense meet.
‘’We’ve had so many races the last five days it’s been crazy,’’ said Smith. ‘’I’m just happy to be staying consistent and being in the finals.’’