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Pierse & McCabe Among 10 For Shanghai

Mar 30, 2011  - Adam Sioui

If you happen to be a Canadian record holder, you fared quite well during the opening night of the 2011 World Championship trials in Victoria, B.C. Out of the eight contested events on Wednesday evening, six were won by the country’s swiftest in history.

This five-day competition is being used as the evaluation of the still early year; a chance to punch a ticket to Shanghai, and race the best the world has to offer. All winners of Olympic events will automatically earn a spot to China, less than three years removed of course from the Beijing Games of 2008. Runners-up have an opportunity as well, by swimming under the FINA ‘A’ qualifying time.

Audrey Lacroix used a strong second half to distance herself from youngster Katerine Savard in the women’s 200-metre butterfly. Lacroix (27) is a decade older than Savard, but experience won over youth in this battle, as the elder won in 2:08.61. Savard (2:10.10) will still race the event, as she was under the required cut by seven 1/10’s.

On the men’s side, Stefan Hirniak cemented his stature as his nation’s top dog in the longer ‘fly. Hirniak led from start to finish, touching in 1:57.42, a hair away from his national standard of 1:57.01. The New Jersey native, who earned Commonwealth bronze in 2010, will look to add more hardware to his trophy case come July.

The women’s 400-metre freestyle proved to be the most entertaining event of the finals as the top four were all within 1.5 seconds of one another. In a mild upset, Samantha Cheverton took the title in 4:09.67, ahead of Barbara Jardin (4:10.32), and Brittany McLean (4:11.02). All three were under the required FINA ‘A’ cut, but McLean will have to look elsewhere for a place on the team.

There were no upsets on the men’s side as Ryan Cochrane continued his dominance in the distance freestyle events. Cochrane, who was Canada’s sole podium finish in Beijing, was already prequalified for his results from the previous year. Cochrane took nothing for granted however, winning in a somewhat pedestrian (by his standards) time of 3:49.30.

After battling a laundry list of ailments last calendar year, Annamay Pierse returned to form in winning her signature 200-metre breaststroke. It was not an easy task as Pierse went stroke-for-stroke with teammate Martha McCabe”herself a 2009 Worlds finalist. The top two were leagues apart in 2:24.18 and 2:24.43.

The men’s breaststroke has its own comeback story in the name of Mike Brown. Once one of Canada’s most consistent performers, Brown spent some time away from the pool, but the thrill of competition, and the lure of making a third Olympic Games made him an uneasy man. Although Brown’s winning time of 2:12.39 was nearly four seconds adrift of his personal best, the end goal remains further down the road. Scott Dickens touched exactly a second behind, yet three 1/10’s clear of the cut.

In non-Olympic - and therefore non-qualifying - event results, Julia Wilkinson (28.13) and Charles Francis (26.08) conquered the 50-metre backstroke, the former in Canadian record time.

Day two will have the appearances of Olympians Brent Hayden, Brian Johns, Victoria Poon, Genvieve Saumur and Joe Bartoch. 

Day 1 results at a glance:

  • Men: 
  • 50 backstroke: 1. Charles Francis, Montreal, 26.08; 2. Matthew Swanston, Newmarket, Ont., 26.11; 3. Matt Hawes, Ottawa, 26.41.
  • 200 breaststroke: 1. Mike Brown, Calgary, 2:12.39; 2. Scott Dickens, Vancouver, 2:13.39; 3. Warren Barnes, Toronto, 2:14.35.
  • 200 butterfly: 1. Stefan Hirniak, Victoria, 1:57.42; 2. Zack Chetrat, Oakville, Ont., 1:58.88; 3. Mack Darragh, Oakville, Ont., 2:01.37.
  • 400 freestyle: 1. Ryan Cochrane, Victoria, 3:49.30; 2. Chad Bobrosky, Calgary, 3:51.72; 3. Ray Betuzzi, Calgary, 3:56.90.
  • Women:
  • 50 backstroke: 1. Julia Wilkinson, Victoria, 28.13; 2. Sinead Russell, Oakville, Ont., 28.98; 3. Kary Murdoch, Calgary, 29.06.
  • 200 breaststroke: 1. Annamay Pierse, Vancouver, 2:24.18; 2. Martha McCabe, Vancouver, 2 :24.43; 3. Tera Van Beilen, Oakville, Ont., 2 :28.41.
  • 200 butterfly: 1. Audrey Lacroix, Montreal, 2:08.61; 2. Katerine Savard, Quebec City, 2:10.10; 3. Tanya Hunks, Vancouver, 2:11.73.
  • 400 freestyle: 1. Samantha Cheverton, Pointe-Claire, Que., 4:09.67; 2. Barbara Jardin, Montreal, 4:10.32; 3. Brittany MacLean, Etobicoke, Ont., 4:11.02.

Day 1 qualifiers:

Men (4): Ryan Cochrane, Victoria; Mike Brown, Calgary; Scott Dickens, Vancouver; Stefan Hirniak, Victoria; 

Women (6): Samantha Cheverton, Pointe-Claire, Que.; Barbara Jardin, Montreal; Annamay Pierse, Vancouver; Martha McCabe, Vancouver; Audrey Lacroix, Montreal; Katerine Savard, Quebec City. 

Results in full