Canadian Men Confident In 400 Free Relay As Kisil Returns: “We’ve Been Hungry For This”


It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Yuri Kisil over the last few years, as the Canadian veteran has been dealing with injuries that have kept him off psych sheets and out of the pool in general for extended periods of time.

He was absent from competition for almost the entirety of the calendar year in 2023, missing the Canadian Trials and World Championships in Fukuoka, but came back with an incredibly impressive performance on Thursday night at the Olympic Trials in Toronto.

The 28-year-old was the runner-up in the final of the men’s 100 freestyle, producing the second-fastest time of his career to qualify for a third straight Canadian Olympic team.

Kisil’s time of 48.19 marked his fastest since setting his PB of 48.15 at the Tokyo Olympics, and not only locked in his spot on the Olympic team in the men’s 400 free relay, but he also qualified in the individual event after dipping under the ‘A’ cut of 48.34.

“Yeah, I’m super happy,” Kisil said post-race. “Getting on that relay, but also getting that individual just means the world. Especially after the last couple of years I’ve had,” mentioning that the break he had helped a lot in resetting for the Olympic year.

As thrilled as he was with the individual berth, Kisil’s tone changed when speaking about Canada’s prospects in the men’s 400 free relay. There’s an internal fire there to push for a medal in Paris after the Canadian men surprised everyone by placing 4th in the Tokyo final, sitting in bronze medal territory through the last turn before being overtaken by Australia.

“We’ve been hungry for this. Ever since we got 4th in the last Olympics, we weren’t happy with that. We want more. We want better,” Kisil said.

The other returning member of the Tokyo relay is Josh Liendo, who has been the best Canadian male swimmer over the last three years and won Thursday night’s final in 47.55, matching his personal best from the 2022 World Championships when he was the 100 free bronze medalist.

Liendo also expressed enthusiasm for the Canadian relay, as Finlay Knox set a seismic lifetime best of 48.29 to place 3rd and Javier Acevedo was within a tenth of his PB for 4th in 48.58.

“A lot of the spotlight has been on the women because they’ve been excelling. The guy’s catching up at halftime,” Liendo said. “Yeah, that’s a really solid swim for the guys right there. That’s world-class.

“I mean, we almost had three guys going 47. Yuri was close. Finlay was close. So, I mean, that’s great.

“I trust that they’re going to keep their momentum going to Paris. And, you know, that’s just testament to how far we’ve come.”

At the 2023 World Championships, without Kisil, the Canadian men finished 5th in the 400 free relay, clocking 3:12.05, with the U.S. winning bronze in 3:10.81.

That squad included Liendo leading off in 48.17 and Knox splitting 48.70, two legs they can certainly improve on. Ruslan Gaziev, absent at the Trials due to a reported whereabouts suspension, did have a blistering 47.30 split, however.

When asked if they can challenge for a podium in Paris, Liendo was quick to answer.

“100%. Last time around, we didn’t even think we had a chance when we were 4th. We were in the battle for 2nd at one point in that race. So, I’m excited.”

Liendo also said it’s important as one of the more established swimmers to pave the way for the next wave (specifically on the men’s side) that might be competing at the Trials now but won’t peak until a few years down the line.

“We gotta keep building, right? We have a little taste of success, and we’re seeing how fast we can go. It’s getting the rest of the field better, too,” he said. “Those guys that want to come up and make the team in the future. So, I mean, I think we just have to keep going.

“We’re getting better, and just gotta keep it going and not settle for where we’re at. Basically, it’s good to see that you guys are doing well.

“That’s our job as the older guys to encourage the younger guys to stay in it. It’s not always easy.”

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1 month ago

They seem like they want it more. Hunger could prove to be the difference in a tight race

1 month ago

I worry Ruslan was pretty pivotal to a podium chance, that would have given them a 47-mid leadoff and two guys with a history of splitting 47-low. If Josh takes a big step forward between now and Paris to give them a 47-low leadout, and Yuri comes through with another 47.1 or better, maybe the other two will be enough to keep them in the running. Not something I’d put money on though.

1 month ago

Good times, but its still a bit hard for me to see them on the podium.

GB and US are rightfully the favorites, with China, Australia, Italy looking like they’ll battle for bronze. Canada’s team looks about as strong as Hungary’s. All of this to say, they still have a mountain to cllimb

Reply to  john26
1 month ago

Sure, but the point is – they’re motivated and hungry. Making the final is no longer the goal. And they need that mindset shift to get on the podium.

Reply to  john26
1 month ago

They’re in the mix though, which is all they need at this point. And these are elite athletes that have a high level of self belief, not fans/viewers in the comments section.

1 month ago

Did Ilya Kharun swim 100 free at trials?

Reply to  swimgeek
1 month ago


Reply to  swimgeek
1 month ago

Yes. Ilya swam 49.57 in the final.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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