Women’s relay shows grit in grabbing bronze

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KAZAN, Russia – The grit and determination of the Canadian women’s relay team was rewarded with a bronze medal during Saturday’s swim competition at the 2013 Summer Universiade.

Savannah King of Vernon, B.C., fought off challenges from Australia and Italy in the final leg as the 4×200-metre freestyle team of Lindsay Delmar of Calgary, Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont.

, and Paige Schultz of Toronto finished third in eight minutes, 2.73 seconds.

“We trust Savannah,” said Schultz. “She did a great job fighting those girls off.

“I think she could see them. Even if she couldn’t, she knew she just had to get her hand on the wall, no matter what.”

It was Canada’s third medal of the meet and there is the promise of more to come. Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., easily qualified for Sunday’s final of the women’s 100-m butterfly while Tera Van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., who is battling the flu, fought her way into the 200-m breaststroke final.

Swimming Canada has sent a 38-member team (19 men and 19 women) to Kazan. The swimming events run through July 17 and can be viewed at http://www.livefisu.tv/ with results posted at http://kazan2013.ru.

The women’s relay was one of the most exciting races of the fourth night of competition at the Aquatic Palace. The U.S. won in 7:55.53, just .23 ahead of the Russian Federation. The Canadian women were second after 200 metres but slipped to fourth at one point before fighting back onto the podium.

“Being able to share a medal with these three amazing girls is unbelievable,” said Schultz. “I’m stoked about it.”

It was Schultz’s second final of the night. Earlier she finished seventh in the 200-m individual medley in a time of 2:17.44. The race was won by Russia’s Andreeva Viktoriiya in 2:12.32.

“Making it into the final was a big deal for me,” she said. “I know what I have to work on next year.”

Schultz admitted the IM took its toll on her relay swim.

“Mentally you can forget about the (first) race but physically it’s a bit harder,” said the 21-year-old, who swam the third leg of the relay. “I struggled a bit in my second half. I’m lucky that Savannah could really bring it home and get that spot for us on the podium.”

Savard’s time of 58.18 seconds was the fastest in the 100-m fly semifinals and just .32 off the Universiade record. She is ranked second in the world at that distance.

Alisha Harricharan of Brampton, Ont., failed to advance to the finals after finishing eighth in her heat in 1:00.51.

Van Beilen had a few anxious moments after finishing fourth in her semifinal in 2:27.35. She had to wait to the second semifinal to learn she had qualified seventh.

“I was pleased, in between a couple of barfs,” said Van Beilen, who woke with a cough and a case of the flu.

“I have the morning to rest. Hopefully between now and then I can get myself relatively healthy, keep some food in, and the coughing to a minimum. I have a lane. That’s all that matters.”

Russia’s Iulia Efimova has the fastest qualifying time of 2:24.71. Ashley McGregor of Pointe-Claire, Que., did not advance after finishing sixth in her semifinal in 2:31.27.

Savard won a silver medal in the 50-metre butterfly Thursday, breaking her own Canadian record. Canada’s other medal was a bronze in the women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay on Wednesday. Both Schultz and MacLean were part of that relay team.

Canadian swimmers won three silver medals at the 2011 Universiade in Shenzhen, China.

In another final, Zack Chetrat, 22, of Oakville finished seventh in the 200-metre butterfly in a time of 1:58.92. Hungary’s Bence Biczo won in 1:55.32.

“I’m taking more time off each time I swim this year but I’m still not where I want to be,” said Chetrat, who swam in his first final at an international meet. “I raced some great guys and put together a solid race.”

Chetrat is one of 14 Canadians who also will compete at the FINA World Championships later this month in Barcelona, Spain. He’s found the Universiade a learning experience.

“Every time I swim I feel like I’ve learned so much,” he said. “In these past few races I feel like I’ve learned more than I did the entire season.”

Schultz said the Canadian team is looking to add to its medal haul.

“The team is great,” she said. “Everybody is ready to go.

“The next few days  you are going to see a lot from Canada. I’m stoked to watch Canada kill it.”

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