Olympic Games, London, Day 1 Heats:
The first morning in London showed how tough the racing will be at these Games - meaning that Canadians had to swim right on their best - or better - to be competitive at all.
Scott Dickens of Vancouver chose the latter and started these Games off with a bang - and Canada's first record performance when he broke the magic minute mark in the 100 breast to post a new national best of 59.85.
He touched in second place in his heat behind Glenn Snyders (NZL) - who finished in 59.78. The final tally puts him in 7th spot going into the semis tonight in a field that is tight to say the least: Christian Sprenger of Australia leads the pack in 59.62, just ahead of two-time gold medalist and defending champion Kosuke Kitajima (59.63), who will be looking to gun it tonight to make it into the triple-crown club.
In the mixed zone Dickens was relaxed and summed it up: "I was in lane 2 in my heat and I don't think people expected me to come second in my heat and come close to winning it. I was really calm before the race and you know, there's no point in getting all worked up about it because this is why we're here - to have fun and race our hardest - and I was just thinking in the ready room like, man, I love my job!"
Dickens has been working a lot on strengthening his second 50 and maintaining the length of his stroke - and at the turn he stuck to his strategy to keep it together and finish strong on the last 20 metres.
"I've been feeling really strong and great since the Trials, and when I made the team and I saw my time, I looked at the clock and just shook my head and thought, ok, I got the job done, and that's all that matters. But my immediate thought was: I can go 59! I knew the swim was there and I just proved I can do it, and now - I always excel in my second swims, so I'm going into tonight going for top 8 - and then tomorrow, going for a medal."
In the men's 400 freestyle Ryan Cochrane pulled off a tough race with Britain's Robbie Renwick to take his heat but missed the final in 9th place with 3:47.26 - just shy of his trials post of 3:47.07.
Swimming next to Germany's Paul Biedermann, they were tied at the 200 in 1:52.41, both of them chasing Renwick. But the 2009 world champion had to take defeat, and when it was all over, Biedermann was out of the race with a disappointing 12th place finish on 3:48.5.
"I was feeling really nervous about my race and my nerves got the best of me," said Cochrane, the Olympic bronze medallist in the 1500 freestyle in 2008. "It’s super hard to know what your competitors are going to do when you race in the early heats so I knew I had to win my heat."
Other Canadians on Day 1 included the youngest member of the squad, Alec Page, who got to be the ice-breaker of the meet, swimming the 400 IM in lane 8 of heat 4 with big gun Michael Phelps (who into the final in 8th spot).
Finishing in 4:19.17 he came up well off of his trials post (4:17.78) to finish 23rd - "a good learning experience" after racing at the front of the pack in Canada, he said.
"It didn’t go the way I wanted it to unfortunately," said Page, 18. "But I’ll take away the positives rather than the negatives. This was my first senior team and I felt I performed well under the circumstances."
Page looks forward to the 4x200 FR relay on Tuesday and says the atmosphere on the team is, "great, everyone is so positive - everyone gets behind each other 110%, so you couldn't ask for a better team, we're all really close together."
In the women's events, Katerine Savard of Pont Rouge swam the 100 fly for her Olympic debut, also finishing off her trials post by almost a second to place 17th in 58.76. The Canadian record-holder got a lucky break though when Dutch swimmer Inge Dekker withdrew from the race to put her in 16th going into the semis - and back in the race.
Stephanie Horner posted 4:45.49 in the 400 IM - off her trials best of 4:42.25 - to put her 23rd.
The women's 4x100 relay did not reach the final.