Swimmers look to keep medal streak alive

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GLASGOW, Scotland – Six Canadians will swim individual finals Saturday as they look to keep the medal streak alive at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Canada has been golden in the pool on the first two days of competition and will be well-represented in the men’s 100-metre breaststroke, as well as the women’s 200-m breaststroke, 100-m backstroke and 50-m freestyle.

The women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay will also be swimming in tonight’s finals.

National team newcomer Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., made a big splash in her senior international debut Saturday morning. The 20-year-old was fastest in the 200-m breast heats, earning Lane 4 in the final with a personal best of 2:25.19.

“Going in I knew that if my training came together as it should and if I raced as well as I could today that I would go 2:25 probably,” Smith said. “That’s the nervous part for me, hoping that everything goes well, that my cap doesn’t slip or my goggles don’t fall, but everything went well and I’m so happy.”

Martha McCabe of the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Ontario also qualified. The 2011 FINA World Championships bronze medallist in the distance won her heat in 2:27.45, good for fifth seed. Tera Van Beilen of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver missed the final by 0.07 seconds, settling for ninth at 2:28.40.

“It was good to see Martha and Tera go first, I like racing with them, so it’s been fun,” Smith said. “I was pretty nervous about making the final. But now I’m just going to treat it as a normal swim meet, so I’ll go home and eat lunch and sleep. Then tonight, I love to race, so I’ll give it a good shot and will give it everything I can.”

Finals get underway at 2 p.m. ET, with live coverage on cbcsports.ca/glasgow2014 and daily highlight shows being broadcast on CBC TV.

Canada will have two women in action in the 100-m backstroke finals: Sinead Russell enters third at 59.91 and Brooklynn Snodgrass of Calgary sixth at 1:00.26.

In relay action, the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay advanced to tonight’s final in fourth position. The team of Sam Cheverton, Brittany MacLean, Alyson Ackman and Emily Overholt swam a heat of 8:10.45 Saturday morning.

“We’re all hoping to drop at least a few seconds in the finals. There’s a lot of girls that didn’t even swim this morning that will be racing us tonight, so we are going to be in the mindset that we are still just as fresh,” said MacLean, 20. “I think we all have a lot of room to drop and our takeovers were really safe so tonight we’re still going to be safe but a little bit more risky than we were this morning and see if we can get our hand on the wall for a medal.”

Edmonton’s Richard Funk will also dive into Saturday’s finals on a high note. The 21-year-old enters with the fifth-fastest semifinal time in the men’s 100-m breaststroke after swimming a personal best of 1:00.51 Friday. With a medal in striking distance, Funk thinks he can do even better tonight.

“There’s some things I can improve on. My turn was a little bit misjudged (Friday),” he said. “It’s just going to be emotional, it’s going to be really fun and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Victoria Poon from Montreal’s PPO club enters the women’s 50-m freestyle final in seventh position with a time of 25.15.

Canada also saw four more swimmers advance to semifinals through Saturday’s heats. Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., moved on with the third-fastest time in the women’s 50-m butterfly (26.33), fresh off her gold medal win in Friday’s 100-m distance.

“I came back late last night to the Athlete’s Village so I’m a little bit surprised about my time this morning,” Savard said. “I’m excited to see what I can do.”

Montreal’s Sandrine Mainville also moved on, grabbing the eighth spot with a time of 26.46, as did Michelle Williams of the High Peformance Centre – Ontario (12th, 27.02).

On the men’s side, two Calgary swimmers earned semifinal spots: Yuri Kisil sits seventh in the 100-m freestyle (49.85) while Russell Wood continued his busy meet by earning eighth seed in the 50-m backstroke (25.75).