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Swimming Canada – TORONTO – Close finishes in both the men’s and women’s 100-metre freestyle races Thursday night at the 2019 Canadian Swimming Trials showed the depth of the Canadian program and the potential strength of the relay teams.

Olympic medallists Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak finished just .35 apart in the women’s race while Markus Thormeyer edged former teammate Yuri Kisil in the men’s event.

Kierra Smith battled back from the disappointment of a disqualification Wednesday night to swim a personal best time of one minute, 6.54 seconds to win the women’s 100-m breaststroke.

Ruck won her first race of the week at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre with a time of 53.26 seconds. Oleksiak touched in 53.60.  Both were under the A standard needed to earn selection to Team Canada for this summer’s FINA World Championships in Gwangju, Korea.

Kayla Sanchez, who finished third in 54.22 seconds and Margaret MacNeil, fourth in 54.51, also made the standard for the world championship team as part of the 4×100-m freestyle relay.

“The whole squad is here,” said Ruck, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario along with Oleksiak and Sanchez. “I’m so excited to go to Korea and race our hearts out.”

Oleksiak, the 100-metre gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics, said the relay team will have time to gel.

“I’m pretty excited to know I’m on the team, know that I’m racing my event and know the girls that are on the relay,” said the 18-year-old from Toronto. “I can get to know them, get to know their takeover style. I think it’s going to be fun.”
Thormeyer, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver, won his second race of the trials in 48.76 seconds. Kisil, who now trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, was second in 49.11.

William Pisani was third in 49.43 seconds while Carson Olafson of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver was fourth in 49.53 and made the standard for the men’s 4×100-m freestyle relay.

Thormeyer also won the 100-m backstroke Wednesday night.

“Having both (those races) as my first two events, those were the two this year I was really working on,” he said. “Doing both and winning both, feels great.”

Kisil likes the potential the relay team shows.

“It looks great, honestly the best since I’ve been on the national team,” said the Calgary native who was part of the 4×100-m free relay team that finished fourth at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships. “It has a lot of depth.

“It’s looking good.”

Smith, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, thought she had won the 200-m breaststroke, her best event, on Wednesday only to be disqualified. She overcame the disappointment by swimming under the qualifying time with a personal best in the 100-m breaststroke.

“I’m so relieved,” she said. “It was another great swim. I was proud of my swim last night. I’m happy to get on the team tonight. I want to be even faster at worlds.”

Tristan Cote of the Etobicoke Swim Club won the men’s 400-m individual medley in 4:17.85, finishing just .05 under the world championship qualifying time.

“I’m excited to make the team,” said Cote. “I didn’t hit the time I wanted to hit, so there is obviously room to improve.”

Sydney Pickrem won the women’s 400-m IM in 4:35.15. Emily Overholt of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver was second in 4:37.88. Both were under the qualifying time.

Paralympic gold medallist Aurelie Rivard won the multi-class women’s 100-m freestyle in 59.88 seconds. That was .76 of a second off her world record.

Rivard, who set the record almost four years ago in the Toronto Pan Am pool, said breaking it is on her mind ever time she swims.

“I’ve been trying to do that since the day I broke it,” said the S10 swimmer who trains at the High Performance Centre – Quebec. “It’s actually harder than I thought.”

Alec Elliott, an S10 swim from Kitchener, Ont., won the men’s multi-class 100-m freestyle in 54.66 seconds.

In other races:

_ Richard Funk won the men’s 100-m breaststroke in 1:01.18.

_ Danielle Hanus of the High Performance Centre – Victoria won the women’s 50-m backstroke in 28.03 seconds

_ Javier Acevedo of Scarborough, Ont., won the men’s 50-m backstroke in 25.69.

In other Para-swimming events:

_ Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto won the multi-class women’s 50-m backstroke in 1:21.25.

_ Jonathan Dieleman of Telkwa, B.C., won the men’s multi-class 50-m back in 58.86 seconds.

The trials, which end Sunday, have attracted 627 athletes (346 female, 281 male) representing 157 clubs. That includes international competitors from 21 countries: Algeria, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.

Preliminary heats begin at 9:30 a.m. each day, and finals start at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and are just $5 for preliminary sessions, $10 for finals. A full meet pass is available for $60, and children under 10 will be admitted free of charge.

In addition to coveted Team Canada spots at the FINA World Championships and World Para Swimming Championships, athletes will also be selected for the Pan American Games, Parapan American Games, FISU Summer Universiade and FINA World Junior Championships.

Live results available here:[UNIQID].

Webcast and full meet info here:[UNIQID].