Josh Liendo breaks record at Canadian swim trials


Josh Liendo

Josh Liendo lowered his own national men’s butterfly record twice and reigning Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil won the women’s butterfly at the Canadian swim trials last Wednesday

Liendo of Markham, Ont., clocked 50.78 in the 100-metre fly in the morning heats before knocking that time down to 50.36 in Toronto’s Pan Am Sports Centre.

The 20-year-old claimed bronze in the event at the 2022 world championship and will race it again this summer in Fukuoka, Japan.

“I did not expect that time in prelims. I mean, prelims were more about me focusing on my technique,’ Liendo said.

“Tonight was about getting fast, about me just going out fast so that’s what I did. Hurt a little on the way in, on the way back, but that’s swimming.”

Runner-up Ilya Kharun of Montreal at 51.45 had the fastest time of his career. The 18-year-old will make his world championship debut in Japan.

The trials featuring 623 athletes from 148 clubs across the country are a selection event for the world championship that runs from July 14-30 in Japan, the world para swim championship from July 31 to Aug. 6 in Manchester, England, as well as the world junior championship in Netanya, Israel, and Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, later this year.

Maggie MacNeil

Toronto’s Summer McIntosh set a world record in the women’s 400-metre freestyle Tuesday. The 16-year-old will race the 200-metre individual medley Thursday.

While Mac Neil of London, Ont., was off her own Canadian-record pace, the 23-year-old was the only woman to swim the 100-metre butterfly under 57 seconds in the final at 56.54.

Liendo and Mac Neil’s winning times were the fastest in the world so far this year.

Three-time Olympian Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., was second behind Mac Neil in 57.81.

“Just coming in here and getting the job done, but also having fun and trying to get on that team and hopefully pull someone along too,” said Mac Neil of her first final of the meet.

Toronto’s Javier Acevedo lowered his own national record in the men’s 50-metre backstroke to 24.90 seconds en route to victory.

Reigning women’s 50-metre backstroke champion Kylie Masse of Lasalle, Ont., touched the wall in 27.41 seconds just ahead of Calgary’s Ingrid Wilm. The backstroke rivals qualified for the world championship on opening day when Wilm upset Masse in the 100 metres.

“I just wanted to come in and have a good race,” said Masse, who is an Olympic silver medallist in the 100. “Yesterday clearly wasn’t my best and that’s just all I had yesterday, and I have to take what I can from that and move forward.  

Other winners Wednesday were 17-year-old Emma Finlin of Edmonton in the women’s 1,500 freestyle and Eric Brownof Pointe-Claire, Que., in the men’s 800 free.

Both will make their world championship debuts in the pool after racing open water last year in Budapest, Hungary.

Five-time Paralympic champion Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., took the women’s 400-metre freestyle multi-class to qualify for Manchester.

It was Rivard’s first time racing the event since winning gold and setting a world record in Tokyo’s Paralympics.

“I’ve only been back to full-time training since January, so I didn’t really have a specific goal in mind,” Rivard said. “I wanted to go a better time than the morning and focus on the technical aspects of my race.