TORONTO – Monika Stitski of Etobicoke, Ont., built on her success from last month’s provincial championships to win the gold medal in the women’s 800-metre freestyle on Thursday to open the Speedo Eastern Championships swimming competition.

Stitski clocked eight minutes and 49.33 seconds with defending champion Zsofia Balazs of Toronto second in 8:53.34 and Barbara Jardin of Montreal third in 8:59.78.

The 18-year-old Stitski was named the Swimmer of the Meet at last month’s Senior Provincials in Toronto. She was first in both the 400-individual medley and 800 freestyle, as well as second in the 200 backstroke and 400 freestyle, and third in the 200 I.M. Like many swimmers here, she is tuning up or the CN Swimming Trials, April 1-6 in Montreal, which will serve as the Olympic team selection meet.

In the men’s 1,500 freestyle, France Zuccaro of Etobicoke successfully defended his title clocking 15:33.11. Steven Bielby of Pointe-Claire, Que., was second in 16:14.68 and Frederic Marois of Quebec City third in 16:22.33.

In the women’s 4X200 freestyle relay, the Toronto Swim Club won the gold medal in 8:17.21 with Hilary Bell, Paige Schultz, Kaleigh Heard and Balazs. Quebec City’s Université Laval Rouge et Or was second in 8:24.15 and Etobicoke Swimming third in 8:24.48.

In the men’s 4X200 freestyle relay, Pointe-Claire won the gold in 7:40.99 with Tim Ruse, Bielby, Jonathan Gagné and Tobias Oriwol. Etobicoke Swimming was second in 7:41.21 and Pointe-Claire B third in 7:50.98.

There were also preliminary races on Thursday. The fastest qualifiers in the women’s races were Paige Miller of Brampton, Ont., in the 50 butterfly, Amanda Reason of London, Ont., in the 50 breaststroke and Gabrielle Soucisse of Beaconsfield, Que., in the 50 backstroke.

Fastest qualifiers in the men’s races were Scott Farrow of Peterborough, Ont., in the 50 butterfly, Julien Roy-Lavallée of Montreal in the 50 breaststroke and Rob Taylor of Brampton, Ont., in the 50 backstroke.

Competition continues through to Sunday at the Etobicoke Olympium with preliminaries at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.

Thursday’s leading results at the Speedo Canada East Swimming Championships in Toronto (all distances in metres):

1,500 freestyle: 1. France Zuccaro, Etobicoke, Ont., 15:33.11; 2. Steven Bielby, Pointe-Claire, Que., 16:14.68; 3. Frederic Marois, Quebec City, 16:22.33.
4X200 freestyle: 1. Pointe-Claire, 7:40.99; 2. Etobicoke Swim, 7:41.21; 3. Pointe-Claire B, 7:50.98.

800 freestyle: 1. Monika Stitski, Etobicoke, Ont., 8:49.33; 2. Zsofi Balazs, Toronto, 8:53.34; 3. Barbara Jardin, Montreal, 8:59.78.
4X200 freestyle: 1. Toronto Swim Club, 8:17.21; 2. Université Laval, Quebec City, 8:24.15; 3. Etobicoke Swimming, 8:24.48.

Full results at: