BEIJING – Canada finished sixth in the men’s 4X100 freestyle relay on Monday morning taking another chunk off the national record in the process while the U.S., edged France for gold in a thrilling finish in swimming action at the Olympic Games.

The U.S., bettered its world record from Sunday evening’s prelims by four seconds clocking 3:08.24. France, which led heading into the final relay, took the silver in 3:08.32 and Australia was third in 3:09.91.

The Canadians with Brent Hayden of Vancouver, Joel Greenshields of Calgary, Colin Russell of Oakville, Ont., and Rick Say of Victoria clocked sixth in 3:12.26 which was faster than the world record time coming into the Olympics.

‘’We knew we could go faster than in prelims for sure,’’ said Hayden. ‘’We had the times in us and we had the proper race strategy. My goal was to set these guys up for the closest lead possible. It was so exciting to see we were under the (pre-Olympic) world record pace.’’

Hayden also smashed his Canadian 100 freestyle record again with a sizzling 47.56 seconds on his opening leg to put Canada in second spot at that point.

‘’Brent’s swim really charged us up,’’ Say said.

In the women’s 100 backstroke semifinals, Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe broke the world record clocking 58.77. Julia Wilkinson of North York, Ont., who broke her Canadian record in the preliminaries, ranked 12th and didn’t advance to the final.

‘’My goal was to go out a little bit faster than in the prelims,’’ said Wilkinson. ‘’And get lots of speed at the front end. I got out of my comfort zone and it didn’t go as planned. I have to put this race behind me and focus on the my next race (the 200 IM).’’

In the women’s 100 breaststroke semis, Olympic team rookies Annamay Pierse of Vancouver and Jillian Tyler of Calgary ranked 10th and 13th and did not advance.

‘’I’m not really satisfied,’’ said Pierse, the Canadian record holder in the event. ‘’But this is a great set-up for my 200 breaststroke. I’m less of a sprinter and my strength is technique. My main focus in training has been for the 200.’’

‘’My overall experience was just amazing,’’ said Tyler. ‘’I came in here with goals of getting a best time and a second swim and I achieved that. So I’m very pleased with my performance here at the Games.’’

Russell was 14th in the men’s 200 freestyle semis and was eliminated.

Canadians scheduled for action in Monday evening’s preliminaries are Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., and Genevieve Saumur of Montreal in the women’s 200 freestyle, Adam Sioui of Calgary in the men’s 200 butterfly and Wilkinson and Erica Morningstar of Calgary in the women’s 200 individual medley.

The races get underway at 6:30 a.m., Monday morning in Canada.

Full results at: