BEIJING – Canada qualified for the final in the men’s 4X200 freestyle relay while world champion Brent Hayden of Vancouver, Mike Brown of Calgary and Audrey Lacroix of Montreal all advanced to the semis in Tuesday swimming preliminaries at the Olympic Games.

The relay and Brown both produced Canadian record performances.

In the 4X200 relay prelims, the U.S.

, minus Michael Phelps, clocked an Olympic record 7:04.66 to qualify first for the final set for Wednesday morning. Italy ranked second in 7:07.84 and Russia third in 7:07.86.

Canada, which rested Hayden, clocked a national record 7:08.04 to qualify fifth. The Canadian racers were Brian Johns of Vancouver, Rick Say of Victoria, Adam Sioui of Calgary and Andrew Hurd of Toronto. The top-eight advanced to the final.

“A new Canadian record and fifth going into finals is quite exciting,’’ said Say. ‘’We all did our jobs here and everyone was fighting to get a spot on for the finals relay team. ”

Hurd says Canada showed it can capitalize on its experience in this event.

” We are all senior athletes on this team and we can handle the pressure. We will be very competitive going into finals.”

The line-up for the final will be announced Wednesday morning.

The previous national mark was 7:09.73 set in a silver medal performance at the 2005 world championships in Montreal, a relay that included Hayden, Say and Hurd.

In the men’s 100 freestyle prelims, Eamon Sullivan of Australia ranked first in 47.80, Stefan Nystrand of Sweden second in 47.83 and Hayden at 47.84 just off his 47.56 Canadian record set in the opening leg of the 4X100 freestyle on Monday.

“I’m quite pleased with this time,’’ said Hayden. ‘’I made a few small errors that can be easily fixed for tomorrow’s semi-final.’’

Joel Greenshields of Calgary was 23rd and eliminated.

In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Brown smashed his Canadian record clocking 2:09.84 which bettered the 2:11.01 he swam at the Beijing Trials in Montreal.

“This is awesome, unbelievable,’’ said Brown, a world championship silver medallist in the event in 2005. ‘’Breaking the 2:10 mark in this event has been a huge barrier to break for me. I’ve been wanting to do this since 2004, and I knew I had it in me. My goal now is to keep progressing.”

Mathieu Bois of Montreal was 29th and eliminated. “I had a strong first 100 metres and I raced hard all the way through,’’ he said. ‘’Overall, I’m quite happy with the outcome and I’m very motivated to lower my time in this event.”

In the women’s 200 butterfly, Lacroix qualified 12th for the semis in 2:08.54 while Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., clocked a personal best 2:10.33 for 20th spot. The top-16 advanced to the semis.

“I got a bit overwhelmed at the front end of my race, but my overall rage strategy was good,’’ said Lacroix, whose Canadian record still stands at 2:06.83. ‘’I will look at improving my turns and touch. It’s a fast field and will have to go best time to get in the finals.”

On Wednesday morning, the men’s 4X200 freestyle relay and Julia Wilkinson of North York, Ont., in the women’s 200 individual medley race in finals while Lacroix, Hayden and Brown race their semis. In Canada races start at 10 p.m., (EDT) Tuesday evening.

Full results at:

Canadian Sport News/Nouvelles-sport canadien
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