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Toro leads charge into final night at Team Canada Trials

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VICTORIA – Michelle Toro was the fastest woman in the water on the final morning of the 2017 Team Canada Trials.

Toro (formerly Williams), swam the 50-metre freestyle in 24.95 seconds, ahead of High Performance Centre – Ontario training partners and fellow Olympic medallists Chantal Van Landeghem and Sandrine Mainville. Toro was under the qualifying time (25.18) for the FINA World Championships in Budapest.

Toro was happy with her prelim swim. “I’ve never been under 25 (seconds) in the prelims so that’s a step forward.”

Earlier in the meet, Toro, Van Landeghem, and Mainville were nominated to swim alongside Penny Oleksiak in the 4×100-m freestyle relay in Budapest after finishing in the top four of the 100-m freestyle.

“It was a huge relief getting the team qualification over with. I came into this meet with the 50 as my main focus. Being able to be totally relaxed into the session this morning helped a lot.”

“This has been my baby all year. I’m really excited to see what I can do in the finals.” said Toro.

Toro and Van Landeghem competed in this event at the Olympic Games in Rio last summer, where they combined with Mainville, Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck for bronze in the 4×100 free relay.

Meanwhile, Olympic medallist Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., led the way in the women’s 200-m butterfly. The 23-year-old swam the race in 2:14.06 ahead of Mabel Zavaros and Jacomie Strydom. Savard has earned nomination to the World Championship team in the 100-m butterfly and the 200-m freestyle.

In the men’s 200-m butterfly, Mack Darragh of the Oakville Aquatic Club is seeded first going into tonight’s final. His time of 2:00.03 was just ahead of teammate Osvald Nitski’s 2:00.32.

Darragh is also going in first in the 200-m individual medley. The Rio Olympian qualified for the final in 2:02.12.

Alex Loginov of Toronto is first going into the men’s 50-m freestyle final. He sprinted to 22.55 ahead of Yuri Kisil, of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver, who swam it in 22.99.

Kisil, a Rio Olympian, has already earned a spot at worlds after winning the 100-m freestyle earlier in the meet.

In the women’s 200-m IM, Sydney Pickrem had the top time of the morning in 2:12.17. The 19-year-old earned her spot on Team Canada in the 400-m IM on Day 2 of the Team Canada Trials.

Fellow Olympian Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson and Sarah Darcel were second and third, in 2:12.80 and 2:13.51. Both Seltenreich-Hodgson and Darcel will be looking to punch their ticket to Budapest in tonight’s final.

“It’s good to have (Seltenreich-Hodgson and Darcel) in the field. Their strengths are some of my weaknesses. I can usually bounce off that and hopefully it gets me to a good race.” said Pickrem.

Tonight’s final will also feature the women’s 800-m freestyle, and the men’s 1,500-m freestyle. Both are selection events for the World Championship team. Olivia Anderson of Etobicoke (Ont.) Swimming enters as top seed in the 800, the event in which she came fourth in her senior national team debut at the Windsor 2016 World Swimming Championships (25m) in December.

Her Windsor teammate Peter Brothers of Victoria, representing the University of Calgary Swim Club, holds Lane 4 in the 1,500. International open water medallists Eric Hedlin and Richard Weinberger are among the other contestants for the first 1,500 national championship in the post-Ryan Cochrane era. Cochrane, who recently announced his retirement, was undefeated since winning his first national  title since 2005.

The trials, which end Sunday, have attracted over 400 swimmers to Saanich Commonwealth Place looking to earn a spot on the Canadian team that will compete at the FINA World Championships July 14-30 in Budapest, Hungary.

Finals are set for 6 p.m. tonight and will be webcast live on CBC Sports at

To qualify for individual events at the world championships swimmers must finish in the top two in their races and be under the FINA A qualifying time.