Caldwell eyes medal after another national mark


BARCELONA – The Canadian record Hilary Caldwell set in the 200-metre backstroke heats at FINA World Championships didn’t last long.

The 22-year-old from White Rock, B.C. went 2:07.15 in the evening semifinal in Barcelona Friday, dropping another 0.66 from the standard she set in the morning.

“I think it was sort of a long time coming. I hadn’t gone a best time since Olympic Trials and I didn’t actually get the opportunity to swim at night last year at the Olympics, I had a disappointing swim in the morning,” Caldwell said.

“So it was definitely good to get the opportunity to do that again at night. I’ve been training really well and staging camp went great. I was at the back end of the meet so I was just really ready to race and felt great.”

Caldwell advances to Saturday’s final in second position, behind only American Missy Franklin, who she swam side-by-side with in the semifinal.

“It’s my first international final. I assume it will be pretty similar to tonight and I know the girls will go. I know I can go with them. My time is kind of right in the mix now,” she said. “I’m just excited to race.”

Meanwhile, Sinead Russell of Burlington, Ont., qualified eighth at 2:09.84. The 20-year-old’s personal best of 2:08.04 stood as the previous national mark.

“With the two ladies going through to the final of the women’s 200 backstroke, that will take us to nine finals for the meet, which is exactly where we wanted to be,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “Hilary did a tremendous job this morning breaking the Canadian record to get through to the semifinal and then to step up again tonight and improve on a Canadian record. Going through to the final in second place means she’ll have a middle lane tomorrow night for the final. A great opportunity awaits her to continue that improvement streak.

“Sinead Russell also being in there gives us our second athlete in the final for Canada, matching up with the 100 fly girls (Katerine Savard and Noemie Thomas). That we’ve got two more ladies in a final tomorrow night is really good.”

Martha McCabe of Toronto competed in the women’s 200-m breaststroke final Friday, finishing eighth in a time of 2:25.21. McCabe, who turns 24 Sunday, was happy with her performance.

“Any other year I absolutely would not be, but coming off the Olympic year I took a little bit of a longer break than I have in the past. To be able to come back from Trials at a 2:27, finish here eighth and have gone a 2:24 in the semi, I’m happy with it. I know there’s a lot of room for me to move forward in the coming years,” McCabe said.

Sandrine Mainville of Boucherville, Que., was Canada’s other swimmer Friday evening. The 21-year-old came 16th, swimming her 50-m butterfly semifinal in 26.59, just off the personal best of 26.52 she swam in the morning.

“Sandrine progressing through to the semifinal in the 50 butterfly was also a really great effort this morning to get a second swim,” Atkinson said. “She’s an athlete that’s really, really improving, did a great job at the (Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia) and now is continuing that at the world championships.”

Saturday, Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane will swim his 1,500-m freestyle heat in the morning, as he looks to advance to Sunday’s final in pursuit of a Canadian record sixth career world championships medal. Other Canadian competitors in action Saturday include Montreal’s Victoria Poon and Winnipeg’s Chantal van Landeghem in the women’s 50-m freestyle.

Canada has sent a 34-member team (17 men, 17 women) to the world championships, which run through Sunday. Swimming Canada’s broadcast partner Sportsnet will be airing a one-hour highlight show all eight days of the championships.

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