Canada's synchronized swim team will miss out on the 2016 Summer Olympics after a fourth-place finish at a test event in Rio over the weekend.

Only the top three finishers will advance to the games. Favourites Ukraine and Japan won gold and silver respectively; Italy finished third.

Despite a powerful performance of its new "Fire and Ice" free routine, Canada was unable to catch up to Italy, which was 0.5 points ahead after yesterday's technical program.  The Italians managed to keep their lead in Sunday's free team event by edging Canada to capture the bronze medal and the last remaining Olympic spot.  

In the end, 0.7 points were the difference between the two countries.

"Fourth position is always the hardest to deal with, especially when the margin is so small," said team captain Marie-Lou Morin. 

"But I'm so incredibly proud of this team who fought so hard to realize our dream. I will never forget the past few months with this incredible group of teammates and friends."

Team members were Janelle Ball, Gabriella Brisson, Annabelle Frappier, Claudia Holzner, Rebecca Maule, Marie-Lou Morin, Samantha Nealon and Jacqueline Simoneau.

"I want to recognize these incredible high-performance athletes," said head coach Meng Chen. "They truly came together as an amazing unit here in Rio and delivered two performances that they can be extremely proud of."  

Despite the disappointment, Canada showed impressive improvement in the last six months. It scored 92 on its free routine — nearly two points more than judges gave it at the 2015 world championships in August. Canada also now outranks Spain for the first time in more than a decade.

"We have improved tremendously over a very short period of time and we served notice to the rest of the world this week that Canadian synchronized swimming has a very bright future," said Synchro Canada's CEO Jackie Buckingham. 

Canada will have swimmers in the duet synchronized event, however. Simoneau and Karine Thomas qualified that spot when they won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games in July.

With files from Synchro Canada