Canadian swimmers set tone for Universiade meet with medal

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KAZAN, Russia – It was the start Canada’s swimmers wanted.

Canada’s swim team set the tone for the meet by winning one medal during Wednesday’s opening day of the swimming competition at the 2013 Summer Universiade and also put themselves in position to add to the haul on Day 2.

The women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team battled to a bronze medal in a time of three minutes, 40.71 seconds while Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que.

, heads into Thursday night’s final of the 50-metre butterfly with the second fastest time in the semifinals. Five other Canadians also reached the final of their events.

“I think the goal of the whole day was to medal,” said Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., who swam the anchor leg in the relay. “It’s great to bring home a medal on the first night and get the ball rolling for Team Canada’s success at this meet.

“Going into the next few days I think people are excited. We’re capable of being up there with the rest of the world and we are going to be a force to reckon with the rest of the week.”

Swimming Canada has sent a 38-member team (19 men and 19 women) to Kazan. The swimming events run through July 17 and can be viewed at http://www.livefisu.tv/ with results posted at http://kazan2013.ru

On Day 1 of swimming Wednesday, the team of MacLean, 19, Paige Schultz, Caroline Lapierre-Lemire, and Sandrine Mainville jockeyed for position with a strong American team throughout the race. On the final leg, MacLean had to fight off a late challenge from a determined Australian team.

“It was going to take a really fast swim to get in there,” said MacLean, a member of Canada’s 2012 Summer Olympic team. “It was time to get up and go.

“At that point it’s mostly adrenaline. I didn’t feel too much pressure.”

The Russian Federation took the gold in a Universiade record time of 3:38.15 with the U.S. just 0.45 behind.

Savard, the Canadian record holder in both the 50-m and 100-m fly, won her semifinal heat in 26.34 seconds. She believes she can be even faster in the final.

“I did a mistake, breathing three times instead of two,” said the 20-year-old. “I think I am going to do better tomorrow. I am going to try to be faster and do my best.”

Mainville will be looking to add to her relay medal when she joins Savard in the 50-fly final. Mainville’s time of 26.70 seconds was the seventh fastest of the semifinals.

Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus  had the fastest time of 26.09 seconds.

In other finals, Marni Oldershaw of Oakville, Ont., finished fifth in the 400-m individual medley in a time of 4:44.47 while Tinna Rissling, 20, of Medicine Hat, Alta., was sixth in 4:44.52.  Russian’s Yana Martynova won the race in 4:39.02, then bowed to a cheering home-town crowd.

Oldershaw said she couldn’t help but get caught up in the emotion of the race.

“The last 50 metres everyone was going crazy,” said the 18-year-old who sliced two seconds off her previous personal best time. “I kind of had to take that energy and pretend they were cheering for me.

“That was the best way to use the energy.”

Eric Hedlin, a 20-year-old who trains at the Victoria Academy of Swimming, finished sixth in the men’s 400-metre freestyle in a time of 3:52.01.  It was a close race won by Australia’s Ryan Napoleon. His time of 3:48.96 was .07 ahead of Japan’s Kohei Yamamoto.

Hedlin was pleased with his time but is looking forward to Thursday’s 1,500-metre preliminaries.

“My first event of the meet is always my worst,” said the Calgary native who was raised in San Diego, Calif., but returned to Canada after high school train with coach Randy Bennett in Victoria.

“This gets me focused for the rest of the meet. It’s good to get my bad swim out of the way. This morning I was totally off in my tactics. I’m really happy with my race tonight.”

In other events, Russell Wood, 19, of Calgary just missed qualifying for the final of the men’s 100-metre backstroke. His time of  54.86 seconds left him ninth.

Richard Funk, 20, of Edmonton, reached the final of the 100-metre breaststroke, finishing eighth in the preliminaries with a time of 1:01.25, while Genevieve Cantin, 22, of Lac Beauport, Que., reached the final of the women’s 200-back with a fifth-best time of 2:11.72.

Two Canadians will swim in the final of the men’s 50-metre butterfly. Kelly Aspinall, 23, of Nanoose Bay, B.C., had the sixth best time of 23.75 seconds while Coleman Allen, 20, of Vancouver, was eighth in 24.06.

The men’s 4×100-m freestyle relay team of Allen, Aspinall, Tommy Gossland, 24, of Nanaimo, B.C.; Chris Manning, 21, of Brantford, Ont.; and Dominique Massie-Martel, 23, of Ottawa finished seventh in 3:20.50. Russia won the race in a Universiade record time of 3:10.88.

Canadian swimmers won three silver medals at the 2011 Universiade in Shenzhen, China.

PHOTO: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

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