WINNIPEG – Brian Johns of Vancouver is off to a fast start at the 2008 Summer Nationals swimming competition after posting the best qualifying time in the men’s 200-metre freestyle preliminaries Wednesday evening to open the five-day meet.

The Summer Nationals are the last competition for Johns and the other Olympic nominees in swimming before the Games which start August 8 in Beijing.

To simulate the Olympic schedule, the preliminaries are being held in the evening and finals the following morning.

In the men’s 200-metre freestyle, Johns was the top qualifier clocking 1:49.16 with Stefan Hirniak of Victoria second in 1:50.20 and Brent Hayden of Vancouver third in 1:50.91. Rick Say of Victoria was fourth in 1:51.13. The top-eight advance to the final.

‘’I was pretty pleased with that,’’ said Johns, tuning up for his third Olympic Games. ‘I’m working on a couple of technical elements in the race and that was my main focus today. Basically my goal is to try and make the entire race feel the same from start to finish.’’

Johns says this week’s competition is an important step in his preparation for the Games.

‘’It’s an opportunity to see the things that need to be spruced up a little bit,’’ he said. ‘’It’s not about making huge changes from here on in. It’s all about making the minor tweaks, sharpening things up and getting into race shape.’’

Other top qualifiers in Wednesday’s preliminaries were Scott Dickens of Vancouver in the 50 breaststroke, Matt Rose of Victoria in the 100 backstroke and Tim Ruse of Pointe-Claire, Que., in the 200 butterfly.

Top qualifiers in the women’s prelims were Annamay Pierse of Vancouver in the 50 breaststroke, Alexandra Gabor of Whitehorse in the 200 freestyle, Julia Wilkinson of North York, Ont., in the 100 backstroke and MacKenzie Downing of Victoria in the 200 butterfly.

Finals for Wednesday’s prelims are on Thursday morning at 10 a.m., local time at the Pan Am Pool.

Full results at :