Pierse leads blitz on Canadian swim records

Annamay Pierse of Vancouver broke her Canadian record in the women's 100-metre breaststroke, one of four national marks to fall Thursday at the world championship swimming trials in Montreal.

Annamay Pierse of Vancouver broke her Canadian record with a dramatic victory in the women's 100-metre breaststroke on Thursday night at the world championship swimming trials in Montreal.

The competition, being held this week at the outdoor pool at Parc Jean-Drapeau, will determine the Canadian swim team for the world aquatic championships scheduled for July 19 to Aug. 2 in Rome.

On Wednesday night, 15 swimmers made the team and, on Thursday, nine more added their names.

Four more Canadian records also fell, bringing the two-day total to seven.

Pierse won a close race with a great push in the final 15 metres clocking one minute 5.74 seconds, only 0.65 seconds off the world record.

That bettered her national mark of 1:06.77 set earlier in the day in the preliminaries and is the third time she has lowered the record this year.

Toronto's Amanda Reason produced an incredible start and led at the turn, clocking a personal best 1:06.53 to finish in second.

Both Reason and Pierse went under the qualifying standard to make the world team.

"I just wanted to get in there and focus on my race," said Pierse, who lowered the 200-metre breaststroke short course world record in March.

"I've had a really great season so far and I wanted to build on that. To go this fast is a bonus and it bodes well for the worlds."

The 15-year-old Reason, who broke the world record in the women's 50-metre breaststroke Wednesday, was also delighted to gain a spot on the team.

"When I turned I saw the field was close and I knew I had to pick it up," said Reason. "I got off the turn smooth and I tried to build it up to the finish.

"With today's time and yesterday's world record, I have a lot of confidence. It's going to get me some good lanes in the prelims at worlds and hopefully it can all lead me to the medal podium."

In the men's 100-metre breaststroke, Vancouver's Scott Dickens broke his second Canadian record in two days, clocking 1:00.23.

That bettered the previous mark of 1:00.70 set by Morgan Knabe in 2003. Mathieu Bois of Montreal also met the standard and got a ticket to Rome by finishing in 1:00.55.

"I'm more relaxed when I come to a meet now and prepared for whatever happens," said Dickens. "I'm really excited that I'm going back to face the top swimmers in the world again."

In the 50-metre butterfly races, Montreal's Thomas Kindler broke his Canadian record, clocking 23.66 to better his 23.81 time from 2007. Saskatoon's Kendra Chernoff took the women's 50-metre butterfly in a time of 27.20.

Meanwhile, the path is now clear for Vancouver's Brent Hayden to defend his world title in the men's 100-metre freestyle.

Hayden won Thursday's final in a season best 48.16, despite battling a cold early this week, edging Edmonton's Joel Greenshields.

"Doing that time two days after being bed-ridden is pretty good," said Hayden. "My first 25 metres went really well.

"It's something I'm really working on and that's what hurt me at the Olympics. I vowed I would never make that mistake again."

Colin Russell of Oakville, Ont., finished third in 48.92 and Stephan Hirniak of Victoria was fourth with 49.98. The top four make the world team to fill the 4X100 freestyle relay spots.

Four world spots were also on the line in the women's 100-metre freestyle.

Heather MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., won her second gold of the competition clocking 54.68. Montreal's Victoria Poon was second in 54.94, Genevieve Saumur, also of Montreal, was third in 55.12 and Toronto's Julia Wilkinson finished fourth in 55.35.

Victoria's Alexa Komarnycky and Vancouver's Tanya Hunks both earned their ticket to Rome in the 400-metre individual medley, clocking four minutes, 40.10 seconds and 4:41.17 respectively. Komarnycky once again approached Joanne Malar's 10-year-old national record.

"There's a lot of little things I need to work on to get the record," said Komarnycky. "I just need to improve technique, work on the first 50 of every stroke and, hopefully, I can get it at worlds."

In the men's 400-metre individual medley, Vancouver's Jordan Hartney put a tough season behind him, meeting the qualifying standard with a personal best 4:17.52 to take first.

Other winners in men's competition were Victoria's Ryan Cochrane in the 800-metre freestyle in 7:48:33.

The Etobicoke Swim Club also broke the national club record in the women's 4X200 freestyle clocking 8:10.22. The relay team members were Jacqueline Keire, Lauren Earp, Brittany Maclean and Heather MacLean.