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VICTORIA – Josh Liendo continued to follow his plan by breaking his own Canadian record in the 100-metre butterfly and earning a spot on the team heading to this year’s world championships at the Bell Canadian Swimming Trials Wednesday night.

Olympic champion Margaret Mac Neil won the women’s 100-m fly while Kylie Masse broke her Canadian record in the 50-m backstroke during the second night of finals at the trials.

Abby Dunford, a Regina native who now attends high school in Las Vegas, also qualified for the world championship team by winning the women’s 1,500-m final.

Nicholas Bennett, a native of Parksville, B.C., who now trains at the High Performance Centre – Quebec, broke his second Canadian record of the event in the men’s Para multi-class 200-m freestyle. His time of 1:54.82 lowered the mark he swam at the Tokyo Paralympics by nearly two seconds.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic to be able to race here and get some best times,” said Bennett. “I had a lot of help from my coach.”

Liendo, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, won his race in 50.88 seconds, lowering his old record by over half a second.

“It was definitely the plan,” said the Markham, Ont., native who finished 11th in the 100-m butterfly at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “I want to move forward in the future.

“I like to have a little swagger, I like to do things my way. I know I have the ability to fight and win races. I want to get some medals on the international level, that’s my goal.”

Finlay Knox, the Okotoks, Alta., native who also trains at the HPC – Ontario, was second in a personal best 51.86 and was also under the qualifying time of 51.96 seconds.

Mac Neil, of London, Ont., who also trains at the HPC – Ontario, won her race in 57.13 seconds. Katerine Savard, who trains with CAMO, was second in 58.01 seconds. Both were under the qualifying time of 58.33.

“It’s not a best time but I just wanted to win and get under that standard,” said Mac Neil. “It’s nice to have the pressure off now.”

Mac Neil, the 2019 world champion, doesn’t plan to race the 100-fly at the world championships. She will focus on relays to take a mental break and help rest an elbow she fractured last month.

Masse won the 50-m backstroke in 27.18, lowering her Canadian record by .37 seconds. Ingrid Wilm, of Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club, was second in 27.80 while Mary-Sophie Harvey was third in 28.32. The race wasn’t a qualifying event for the world championships.

The time surprised Masse, the LaSalle, Ont., native who trains at the HPC – Ontario.

“The 50 is something I feel I have struggled a little bit with,” she said. “It’s a constant battle for me with the tempo. I’ve put in a lot of hard work. It was all about getting the best out of myself and being able to put it all together. I wasn’t expecting it but at the same time I was hoping for it.”

Dunford, 16, earned a spot on her first world championships team by winning her race in 16 minutes, 20.26 seconds, nine seconds under the standard and more than 18 seconds faster than her previous best time.

“It means everything for me,” said the Grade 10 student. “I have been training the last eight months.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all. I just wanted to go a best time and have fun racing.”

Eric Brown of Pointe-Claire Swim Club won the men’s 800-m freestyle in a personal time of 7:59.68 but swam over the qualifying time.

Loic Courville Fortin of CAMO won the men’s 50-m backstroke in 25.98 seconds.

Niki Ens, who trains with the Saskatoon Lasers, won the Para-swimming multi-class 50-m backstroke in 1:12.72. She along with silver medallist Aly Van Wyck-Smart, who trains with the Variety Village club in Toronto, both swam under the times needed to qualify for the World Para Swimming Championships.

Sabrina Duchesne of Université Laval won the women’s multi-class 400-m freestyle in a time of 5:35.87. Her Tokyo 2020 Paralympic teammate Abi Tripp of Club de Natation Région de Québec finished second in 5:17.25, Katie Cosgriffe of Burlington Aquatic Devilrays was third in 5:04.23. All three were under the qualifying standard for their sport class.

In the men’s 400-m free multi-class final, Philippe Vachon of Mégophias was the winner in 4:38.92, under the qualifying standard. Second-place finisher Zach Zona of HPC-Que also made the standard with a 4:55.62, as did Matthew Cabraja of COBRA Swim Club (5:00.46).

Angela Marina of Brantford Aquatic Club won the women’s multi-class 200-m freestyle in 2:17.60, under the qualifying standard for worlds.

The trials, being held through Sunday at Saanich Commonwealth Place, have attracted 552 swimmers from 131 clubs across the country. The competition will select the Swimming Canada teams competing at the FINA World Championships in June in Budapest, Hungary; the Commonwealth Games in July in Birmingham, England; and the World Para Swimming Championships scheduled for June in Madeira, Portugal.

All sessions will be streamed live on CBC Sports, with commentary for the finals from former national team swimmers Jasen Pratt and Sarah Mailhot. Live streams can be watched with the free CBC Gem streaming service, at as well as through the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.

Also selected will be squads heading to the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Hawaii and the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Seychelles.
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