Canadian swimmers McIntosh, Harvey finish 1-2 in women's 200 free at Olympic Trials

TORONTO — Canada's Mary-Sophie Harvey said she "was really chill" as Summer McIntosh and Penny Oleksiak battled for the early lead in the women's 200-metre freestyle race Tuesday at the Olympic & Paralympic Trials.

Harvey upped her pace over the final 100 to move into second place behind McIntosh to secure one of two Paris berths in the discipline.

"I was fully calm," Harvey said. "I've been doing really well all year in this race and I've built up a lot of confidence. So I knew going in there (I'd be strong).

"In my mind I was like, 'That spot is mine.'"

The 17-year-old McIntosh, from Toronto, was in control for a second straight night. She took top spot in one minute 53.69 seconds.

"I'm ecstatic about it obviously but it's important to just keep pushing forward because I know I've done the training for this meet and heading forward," she said. "I'm just trying to get the most out of that and just have fun and keep racing."

Harvey, from Trois-Rivières, Que., was also well inside the Olympic qualifying time in 1:55.44.

McIntosh, who enjoyed a breakout performance at this event three years ago ahead of the Tokyo Games, was dominant in her 400 freestyle victory a night earlier.

"It pushes us, I think all the girls, to better ourselves," Harvey said of her teammate's excellence. "We want to race her. I was able to see her feet today, so that was kind of nice."

Oleksiak, a seven-time Olympic medallist from Toronto, fell back over the second half of the race and ended up ninth in 2:00.18.

She declined to speak to reporters in the poolside interview area at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Oleksiak later provided a brief comment to a Swimming Canada representative.

"I’ve been focusing a bit more on the 100 and the 50 this year," said Oleksiak, who has battled injuries over the shortened quadrennial. "My story is not over yet. It was one 200 and I’m on to the next one."

Harvey, 24, made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, finishing fourth in the 4X200-metre freestyle relay. She won 4X100 medley relay bronze at the 2023 world championship.

"I know my strengths (in the 200 free) and it's definitely not the front-end speed," she said. "I wish I had it. But I know my strength is back-end speed. I've been working on it all year."

In other races, Saskatoon's Blake Tierney (53.48) and Toronto's Javier Acevedo (53.55) secured spots in the men's 100 backstroke. Tristan Jankovics of Guelph, Ont., was the lone qualifier in the men's 400-metre medley in 4:11.74.

Like McIntosh, Harvey booked a spot for the July 26-Aug. 11 Games on Monday when she finished second behind Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., in the 100 butterfly.

"Two races, two tickets," Harvey said. "You can't ask for better."

In para-swimming competition, Tess Routliffe of Caledon, Ont., trimmed nearly a second off her national SB7 record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:30.47.

In the SB8 class, Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L., finished in 1:25.71 and in SB13, Maxine Lavitt of Winnipeg had a time of 1:25.79. In the SB14 class, Emma Van Dyk of Port Colborne, Ont., finished in 1:31.10 and Toronto's Ruby Stevens posted a time of 2:09.80 in SB5.

Two records fell in the men's 100 breaststroke.

Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., improved his own mark in the SB14 class to 1:03.71 and Charle Giammichele of Hamilton, Ont., improved his record in the SB7 class with a time of 1:23.49.

James Leroux of Repentigny, Que., led SB9 swimmers in 1:12.43.

Para-swimmers who finish with an 'A' qualifying time are eligible to be nominated to the Paralympic team when the event wraps on Sunday night.

There are slot allocations for 15 women and seven men. The Paralympics will be held Aug. 28-Sept. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2024.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press