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Canadian men fly to finish line at Trials

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TORONTO – The Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials, Presented by Bell, came to a spectacular conclusion Sunday.

A trio of Canadian men produced the fastest 100-m butterfly in country’s history, and the Canadian teams for Paris 2024 were announced officially at the end of the seven-day competition at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Full team list: Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Full team list: Paris 2024 Paralympic Games

Tokyo Olympian Josh Liendo from the North York Aquatic Club led the way with a Canadian record time of 50.06 seconds. That was 27 hundredths under the national mark he set in the morning preliminaries.

The fastest time in the world this year made the 21-year-old Torontonian the fifth-fastest swimmer of all-time in the 100 fly.

Montreal native Ilya Kharun and Finlay Knox from the High Performance Centre – Vancouver followed in 51.09 and 51.42, making them the second and third-best performers in Canada’s history.

All three swam under the Olympic Qualifying Time of 51.67. Liendo and Kharun qualified under Priority 1 to represent Canada in the event in Paris thanks to their 1-2 finish.

On the women’s side, Toronto’s Summer McIntosh and Sydney Pickrem also achieved the qualifying time on Sunday thanks to a 1-2 finish to a thrilling 200 individual medley final.

In Para swimming, four athletes posted “A” qualifying times on the final night of competition, including Aurélie Rivard (S10) from Club de Natation Région de Québec and Shelby Newkirk (S6) of the Saskatoon Lasers in the women’s 50 freestyle, Sebastian Massabie from the Pacific Sea Wolves in the men’s 50 free S4, as well as Nicholas Bennett from the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club in the men’s 200 free S14.

Liendo had already qualified in the 50 and 100 free earlier in the meet, including a Canadian record performance in the shorter sprint on Saturday.

“I’m tired but I feel like it was really just a good trials,” said Liendo, a two-time world championships medallist in the 100 fly. “It feels great. I just wanted to get out there, to push myself, see where my limit’s at. That’s what this meet is for. I think I did that tonight.”

Liendo placed 11th in the 100 fly in his Olympic Games debut three years ago. He then claimed bronze at the 2022 worlds, followed by a silver-medal performance in a then national record time of 50.34 in 2023.

“I’m going to enjoy this for a little bit, but I’m also excited to get back to work and try to see what I can do better in Paris.”

Kharun, a 19-year-old Olympic rookie, and Knox, a 23-year-old veteran from Tokyo 2020, also posted personal bests in Sunday’s final.

Kharun achieved his second qualifying time of the meet after his win in the 200 fly. Knox is set to compete in the 200 IM in Paris thanks to a Canadian-record performance on Saturday.

“I’ve been working with my coach on the first 50 so I can keep up with guys like Josh,” said Kharun. “I think our men’s program is pretty high ranked and it will be, I think, even better moving forward.”

In the highly-contested women’s 200 IM final, all Top 4 finishers clocked under the qualifying time.

Pickrem took the lead at the 150 mark following a strong breaststroke but McIntosh rallied back to prevail by 62 hundredths.

McIntosh, who made her Olympic debut at 14 three years ago, won in 2:07.06, just over her Canadian senior and world junior standard of 2:06.89 from the 2023 worlds trials.

She had previously punched her ticket for Paris with wins in the 200 free, 400 free, 200 fly and 400 IM, the latter in world record time.

Pickrem, a two-time Olympian, touched in a personal best 2:07.68, almost a second faster than the 2:08.56 she posted at the 2024 worlds in February, when she claimed silver. She had won the 200 breast in qualifying time on Friday.

Third and fourth-place finishers Marie-Sophie Harvey from CAMO club and Ashley McMillan from HPC-Ontario also achieved career bests in 2:09.57 and 2:11.00.

“I’m pretty happy with it,” McIntosh said. “It was a little bit rusty on some of my technique, but that means there’s just more room for improvement in that event. I think the more I swim that, the more I learn and kind of have more experience in it, because it’s more like a new event for me.

“I’m pretty happy to be able to qualify in five of my top events. I’m going to Paris, I’m super excited, I think it’s going to be an amazing meet, not just for me, but for all of Team Canada.”

Other Olympic program winners on Sunday were seven-time Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak from the Toronto Swim Club, who took the women’s 50 free in a personal best 25.06, and Eric Brown from the Pointe-Claire Swim Club in the men’s 1500 free (15:23.87).

In Para swimming, Rivard, the 10-time Paralympic medallist and five-time champion from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., won the women’s 50 free multiclass final in 27.99.

It was the third S10 “A” time of the meet for the 28-year-old following earlier wins in the 100 and 400 free.

Newkirk, third in 33.87, had already qualified for her second Games in the 100 back S6.

Also in the 50 free, second-place finisher Danielle Dorris from Club de natation Bleu et Or and Mary Jibb from Muskoka Aquatic Club set national S7 (33.40) and S9 (29.52) marks but won’t swim the event in Paris as it is not part of the program in their classes.

“The love for the sport is still there,” said Rivard, who made her Paralympic debut at London 2012. “I still feel like I have things to accomplish. I still have goals. That’s what I train for every day.

“I want to get as close as possible to my world records. And hopefully bring some titles back,” added the world record holder in the 50, 100 and 400 free.

Massabie won the men’s 50 free multiclass final in a Canadian S4 record 38.08, and recorded another national standard later in the evening when he placed second in the 200 free in 3:07.00.

The native of Surrey B.C., finished the trials with six Canadian records and one S4 world mark, set on opening day in the 50 fly.

Bennett, who made his Paralympics debut at 17 in Tokyo, won the 200 free multiclass in 1:54.78. The Parksville, B.C. product is the reigning S14 world champion in the event.

Finally, Angela Marina from the Brantford Aquatic Club won the women’s 200 free in 2:16.49, over the S14 “A” time.

A total of 857 athletes from 151 clubs across the country were competing to represent Canada at the Olympic Games (July 26-Aug. 11) and Paralympic Games (Aug. 28-Sept. 8) in Paris. Teams for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships (Aug. 21-24) in Canberra, Australia, and Open Water Junior World Championships (Sept. 6-8) in Alghero, Italy, were also selected.


Best performance by points Olympic program (women): Summer McIntosh, 400 IM, 1017

Best performance by points Olympic program (men): Josh Liendo, 100 Fly, 963

Best performance by points Paralympic program (women): Danielle Dorris, 50 Fly S7, 1146

Best performance by points Paralympic program (men): Sebastian Massabie, 50 Fly S4, 1198