Josh Liendo posts world's fastest 50m freestyle time of season at Canadian swimming trials

20-year-old Josh Liendo, from Markham, Ont., who just a night earlier broke his own Canadian record in the 100-metre butterfly, posted the fastest time in the world this season in the 50m freestyle on the third day of the national trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Markham, Ont., native broke his own national record in 100m butterfly on Wednesday

A men's swimmer blasts off the start block during a 100-metre butterfly race.
Canada's Josh Liendo blasts off the start block on his way to winning the men's 100-metre butterfly at national swimming trials in Toronto on Wednesday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Canadian swimmer Josh Liendo has always had the attitude and swagger of a champion.

During some of his earliest swimming meets he would walk around the deck like he owned the space, commanding respect and attention before diving into the pool.

Maybe though, he didn't always have the top swimming times to back it up — but now he certainly does.

"Confidence is something I build through practice. I put in every practice like I'm racing against the best in the world. I treat every practice like it's a big meet," Liendo said.

Liendo, who just a night earlier broke his own Canadian record in the 100-metre butterfly, posted the fastest time in the world this season in the 50m freestyle on the third day of the national trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

The 20-year-old from Markham, Ont., blasted off the blocks with a hometown crowd and his parents cheering him on, surging to the wall and stopping the clock in a time of 21.80.

"This pool is where I set my first junior national record, my first national record. And then I just keep getting it done in this pool. It's good to be back," Liendo said.

WATCH | Liendo breaks Canadian record in 100m butterfly for 2nd time:

Josh Liendo lowers own Canadian record in 100m butterfly

6 months ago
Duration 3:10
After setting a new Canadian record in the men's 100m butterfly earlier in the day, Toronto's Josh Liendo lowers his nation's best time to 50.36 seconds with his victory in the finals.

His standout performances at these national trials come just a week after Liendo became an NCAA champion in the 100-yard freestyle in his freshman year at the University of Florida.

In that race he led from start to finish, stopping the clock in the second fastest time ever at 40.28. Only American superstar Caeleb Dressel has been faster in the event.

"That meet was wild. It's a high-pressure meet. I think I handled it well," Liendo said.

He's as confident as he's ever been and isn't afraid to talk about his progression and  the growth of the Canadian men's program.

"We're coming. I mean we're not coming, we're here now. At worlds this year we're going to shock a lot of people. The Canadian men are looking good. Great times out here," Liendo said.

"I think I'm there. I definitely deserve to be in that conversation and I want to keep getting faster."

Liendo's resume of podium performances and records is growing after each competition.

At the short course world championships in Abu Dhabi in December 2021, Liendo earned his first medals at a senior international event. He won individual bronze in the 50m and 100m freestyle events and was also part of the 4x50m mixed relay that won gold.

With those medals, Liendo became the first Black Canadian swimmer to win a gold medal, and the first to win an individual medal at a major international championships or Games.

Liendo says that representation is part of what has always motivated him in the pool.

"It's a good feeling and I'm just so proud of how far this sport has come," he said. 

Liendo adds he has a group of people around him, including his mom and dad, that have supported him and allowed him to succeed.

"My family, they're the best. They've done so much for me. My friends are always supporting me. I couldn't ask for a better support system."

Liendo will swim in the 100-m free on Friday night and the 50m fly on the final day of competition Sunday evening.

WATCH | Mac Neil overcomes struggles, feeling refreshed:

Canadian swimming star Maggie Mac Neil rejuvenated after prioritizing mental health

6 months ago
Duration 2:22
2020 Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil on finding balance outside of the pool, as she swims to a 100-metre butterfly victory at the 2023 Canadian Swimming Trials.

Knox breaks own national record in 200 IM

Finlay Knox broke his own national record in the men's 200 individual medley later on Thursday, touching the wall in 1:57.26.

The 22-year-old from Okotoks, Alta., lowered his mark of 1:57.50 from last year's national trials while securing a spot at this summer's world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

"Obviously, trials, we'd like to swim fast but the point is to make the team. Once we're on the team then it's focused on the summer," said the Tokyo Olympian. "I was maybe a little nervous going in, just making sure we put a swim down that will put us on the team and then go from there.

"I've been focusing a lot on other events and how to help my IM. I just feel like I wasn't quite connected today but every time we dive in we learn something and hopefully we can build off this."

WATCH | Knox sets new Canadian record in 200m individual medley:

Finlay Knox sets new Canadian record in the 200 metre individual medley

6 months ago
Duration 3:59
Okotoks, Alberta's Finlay Knox set a new Canadian record in the 200 metre individual medley with a time of 1.57:26 at the Canadian Swimming Trials in Scarborough, Ontario.

Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., also met the World Aquatics standard in the women's 50 freestyle, winning the final in 24.79 — shaving off almost half a second from her previous best of 25.21.

"The goal was definitely to go under 25 tonight and I'm really happy with that," the 23-year-old said. "The 50 free is still a fun event for me. I'm really happy to see that time."

Paralympic champion and world record holder Danielle Dorris won the women's Para 50 butterfly in 34.38, while five-time Paralympic champion Aurélie Rivard topped the podium in the women's Para 100 freestyle (1:02.04).

Philippe Vachon won the men's Para 100 freestyle in 1:02.33.

Other winners Thursday were Tyson Jacob in the men's Para 50 freestyle (47.52), James Dergousoff in the men's 100 breaststroke (1:00.89) and Sophie Angus in the women's 100 breaststroke (1:07.68).

WATCH | Mac Neil wins 50m freestyle in Toronto:

Maggie MacNeil wins 50 metre freestyle national title

6 months ago
Duration 1:57
Maggie MacNeil captured another national swimming title Thursday this time in the women's 50 metre Freestyle finishing with a time of 24.79.


Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

With files from CBC Sports and The Canadian Press

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