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Swimming Canada – BUDAPEST, Hungary – Sydney Pickrem led the charge for Canada as the FINA World Championships got underway Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.

The 20-year-old Olympian broke her own Canadian record in her 200-m individual medley semifinal to put herself in good position to swim for a medal Monday.

Pickrem’s time of 2:09.17 sends her to the final in third position.

“It was pretty good. A best time is a best time, you can’t be upset with that. The plan is to descend my 200s. We’re in the right direction so hopefully I keep getting better tomorrow night,” Pickrem said.

“I’m being more consistent. I’m excited to try and get under that 2:09 mark tomorrow.”

The Hungarian crowd at Duna Arena was loud once again for world record holder Katinka Hosszu. The “Iron Lady” did not disappoint, advancing in top spot at 2:07.14. Melanie Margalis of Team USA sits second at 2:08.70.

“I’m pretending they’re cheering for me,” Pickrem said. “It’s crazy how loud the crowd is. I’m trying to use the energy in the best way possible and not let it get in my head.”

Ottawa native Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver finished 11th in 2:11.61.

Toronto’s Penny Oleksiak also advanced to a final. Her time of 57.07 in her 100-m butterfly semifinal sends her to Monday’s final in fifth position. The 17-year-old is the Olympic silver medallist and world junior record holder in the event.

“This morning was a good morning and we saw lots of swimmers progress on the pre-competition ranking to finish higher than they were ranked coming in,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “Tonight with Penny Oleksiak making it through to the final in the 100 fly and Sydney Pickrem making it through to the final of the 200 IM we have two finalists again tomorrow night.”

The FINA World Championships run through Sunday. Finals begin at 11:30 am ET each and will be streamed live by CBC in English at and in French on Radio-Canada Sports Facebook Live.

Canada just missed a medal on Day 1 as the women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay looked to repeat its bronze medal performance from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The team of Sandrine Mainville, Chantal Van Landeghem, Kayla Sanchez and Penny Oleksiak finished fourth in 3:33.94. Mainville led off in a personal best 53.77.

“We all raced our hearts out. I think last summer raised our expectations a bit. We wanted to be on the podium but I’m proud of the girls. We’ll go on the race video and see what we can improve for the rest of the meet,” Van Landeghem said. “We’re all right around our best splits ever and it’s only Day 1 so there’s still lots of racing to do. I think everyone’s excited to keep going.”

“This is what world swimming is,” Atkinson said. “A bronze medal here is faster than what won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games. Our ladies tonight were just a little bit shy of that but we’re well ahead of where we were in the first year of the quad leading to Rio. (5th in 3:37.09 at the 2013 Worlds in Barcelona). We’ve certainly got something that team can go ahead and build on over the next years and be ready for Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships.

Meanwhile, the men’s 4×100-m freestyle relay finished sixth. The team of Yuri Kisil, Markus Thormeyer, Javier Acevedo, Carson Olafson turned in a time of 3:15.25.

“The men’s relay did a great job this morning getting through into the final,” Atkinson said. “The guys are aged 19 to 21, it’s still a young team but making a world championship final is something they can build on going forward.

In other semifinal action, Edmonton’s Richard Funk, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, came 15th in men’s 100-m breaststroke. Funk swam a 59.92, his second sub-minute time of the day – and his life.

Full results are available at