PICKREM, SAVARD LEAD CANADA’S CHARGE INTO SEMIFINALS

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Canada went 4-for-4 at advancing to Olympic semifinals on Monday, led by 19-year-old Sydney Pickrem qualifying eighth from the women’s 200 metre individual medley heats.

Backstroker Kylie Masse (Windsor-Essex Swim Team / LaSalle, Ont.) and breaststroker Rachel Nicol (Lethbridge Amateur Swim Club / Lethbridge, Ab.) are swimming in finals on Monday night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Canada will have six swimmers in action. Brittany MacLean (Etobicoke Swimming Club / Etobicoke, Ont.) and Katerine Savard (Club Aquatic Montreal / Pont-Rouge, Que.) will compete in the 200-m freestyle finals at 9 p.m. EDT. Pickrem (Island Swimming / Oldsmar, Fla.) and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (HPC – Vancouver / Greater Ottawa Kingfish / Ottawa, Ont.) are in the 10:36 p.m. EDT 200-m IM semis.

The 19-year-old Pickrem, who was in the final IM heat alongside world-record holder Katinka Hosszu, posted a time of two minutes 11.06 seconds in her heat on Monday afternoon. Seltenreich, 21, came in at 2:12.56 to qualify 14th.

“It’s not really about the time – it’s about the place, trying to get through to the semifinal and be a little bit better tonight,” said Pickrem, a 2013 world junior bronze medallist. “Steve [Bultman, Pickrem’s coach] said to have a strong breaststroke [leg] and I did.

“I prepare more for the 200 IM because it’s my favourite race, and hopefully I can get a time that reflects the training I have put in.”

Savard continued to thrive outside of her comfort zone, producing a 1:57.15 200-m freestyle to qualify 13th. MacLean, who had a tight turnaround from competing in the 400-m freestyle final late Sunday night, nabbed the last semifinal berth, qualifying 16th in 1:57.74.

The 23-year-old Savard took more than a second off her time from the Canadian Olympic & Para-swimming Trials in April. At Trials, Savard regrouped to earn a nomination in freestyle after being denied in 100-m butterfly, her best event.

“I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO – I WAS FAR FROM HAVING A SECURED SPOT IN THE SEMIS SO THAT’S GOOD, I’VE WORKED REALLY HARD IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS AND IT PAID OFF. I’LL BE FASTER TONIGHT BECAUSE I HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF THAT FIRST RACE. MENTALLY, IT’S NOT LIKE WHEN I’M SWIMMING BUTTERFLY, AND THAT HELPS ME. I WAS CLOSE TO THE CANADIAN RECORD. I DID WHAT I COULD.”

-KATERINE SAVARD

Masse, Nicol learn lane assignments

Masse is in Lane 2 for the women’s 100-m backstroke final, which is scheduled for 9:30.

Nicol will draw into Lane 8 for the women’s 100-m breaststroke final, which goes at 9:54.

Canada has attained seven finals and two medals (silver from Penny Oleksiak in 100-m butterfly, bronze from the women’s 4x-100-m freestyle relay) through three days of competition.