July 29, 2012 5:49 AM ET
Julia Wilkinson of Stratford, Ont., led four Canadians into swimming semifinals at the Olympic Games.
Wilkinson swam under one minute in 100-metre backstroke for just the second time in her career in heats. Her time of 59.94 was seventh-fastest in qualifying.
The top 16 advance.
Sinead Russell of Burlington, Ont., will join Wilkinson in the backstroke semifinal in the evening. The 19-year-old was 13th in one minute, .10 seconds.
Charles Francis of Cowansville, Que., advanced in the 100 men’s backstroke, finishing 13th in 54.08.
Tera Van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., was 16th in 100 breaststroke qualifying to just squeak into the semifinals. The 19-year-old posted a time of 1:07.85.
It was the first taste of Olympic competition for Russell, Van Beilen and Francis. Wilkinson, 25, competed in the 2008 Games in Beijing.
They all swim their respective semifinals Sunday evening with finals scheduled for Monday.
Australia’s Seebohm has fastest time
Emily Seebohm of Australia was the fastest in the women’s 100-metre backstroke with an Olympic-record time at the London Games.
Seebohm touched in 58.23 seconds, lowering the old mark of 58.77 set by Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe four years ago in Beijing.
“I saw that I was ahead of the world record and I was just like, ‘Don’t get over your head. Just keep going and just go as hard as you can,”‘ she said. “All I wanted to do this morning was to make it through. My goal was just to keep moving forward and now maybe the world record in the final, who knows?”
Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old American competing in her first Olympics, was second-quickest in 59.37 in her first individual event. She earned a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay on the first night of swimming Saturday.
Franklin is set to swim seven events in London.
“It was awesome watching Emily Seebohm break the Olympic record, that was unbelievable,” Franklin said. “It’s going to be an awesome race tonight. She did such a good job, but I am really happy about how I did and I’ll be focusing on that.”
Belinda Hocking of Australia was third in 59.61.
Ten of the 16 women qualifying for the evening semifinals swam under 1 minute.
Anastasia Zueva of Russia, the silver medalist at last year’s world championships, was fifth. Current world champion Zhao Jing of China was ninth.
A pair of British swimmers had the home fans cheering loudly. Georgia Davies was sixth, while world-record holder Gemma Spofforth moved on in 12th.
Rachel Bootsma, the other American teenager in the event, was 11th.
Coventry, the silver medalist in the last two Olympics, barely advanced, grabbing the next-to-last spot in 1:00.24.
“I’ve been up and down coming into the competition with my knee and then pneumonia, so I’m just excited to be here,” she said. “I’m just enjoying my fourth Olympics and I’ll see what I can do.”
Two-time defending champion Natalie Coughlin failed to qualify for her signature event at the U.S. trials last month.
Laure Manaudou of France finished 22nd and didn’t advance.
Worsley narrowly misses cut
Posting the fastest time in his heat wasn’t enough for Vancouver native Blake Worsley to make the men’s 200-metre freestyle semifinal.
Worsley, the lone Canadian in the event, narrowly missed the cut with the 17th fastest time of 1:48.14. The top 16 advance.
Julia Wilkinson was born on June 12th, 1987 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Wilkinson
June 12th, 1987
12 +1+9+8+7 = 37 = her “secret” number = Swimmer. Swimming.
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