Victoria swimmer Ryan Cochrane leads a strong Canadian contingent to the U.S. Grand Prix in Missouri.

COLUMBIA (Friday, February 10, 2012) – A handful of Canada’s Olympic swimming hopefuls will be revving their engines this weekend at the US Grand Prix in Missouri as they put the hard months of training in the pool to the test.

With just over a month until the Canadian Olympic swimming trials in Montreal, Olympic head coach Randy Bennett is expecting some strong “in season” swimming from the Canadian athletes competing in Columbia Missouri for February 10-12.

“Our swimmers have had a solid block of training in preparation to the Olympic Trials and now it’s time to see the results of this great work payoff,” said Bennett.

Bennett’s star pupil, Ryan Cochrane of Victoria will be part of the Canadian line up this weekend and is surrounded by many of his National team colleagues, including Victoria Academy’s Stefan Hirniak, Blake Worsley, Stephanie Horner and Alexa Komarnycky.

Stratford’s Julia Wilkinson will be facing off some of her Canadian rivals Erica Morningstar of Calgary and Sinead Russell of Burlington, ON.  

Two-time Olympian Mike Brown of Perth, ON will be also in the mix as he sets to make waves towards his third Games.  Brown retired after placing 4th at the Beijing Olympics.  Last year, Brown made a comeback to competitive swimming, leaving an impression at the World Championships in Shanghai that he was going to be a contender in London.

Montreal’s Barbara Jardin, Victoria Poon, Audrey Lacroix and Charles Francis are other veterans on the national team that will tune up their strokes this weekend in preparation to make an impression at trials next March.

Newcomer Brittany Maclean of Etobicoke, who won gold last year for Canada at the World Junior Championships, will be joined by 18 year-old butterfly sensation Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, QC who’s also been making a name for herself at the world level.

“We’re quite excited about the next few weeks for Canadian swimming,” said Pierre Lafontaine, National Coach and CEO of Swimming Canada.  “We’re going to see a strong build up to our trials with great performances at the US Grand Prix, the Speedo Eastern and Western Championships as well as the CIS championships.”

Competition runs from February 10-12 with prelims starting at 9:00am and finals at 5:30pm local.