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Alec Page gets rough initiation; Scott Dickens shines

Michael Phelps of the U.S. swims during the men's 400-metre individual medley heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on Saturday.

JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

The first Canadian to swim under a minute in the 100-metre breaststroke took a moment Saturday to enjoy being at the Olympics.

As Scott Dickens, of Burlington, Ont., sat in the ready room at the London Aquatics Centre, he thought to himself, "Man, I love my job."

Turned out he does it rather well.

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In the fifth heat of the 100-m breast, Dickens finished second with a time of 59.85 seconds. That set a Canadian record and carried Dickens to Saturday night's semi-finals. The final goes Sunday.

"I'm just going up and down the pool, swimming in my lane, not thinking about anything else," said Dickens, who used a strong return leg to earn his placing. "I was thinking stick to my strategy, the last 50, hold my stroke and don't panic."

As for going under a minute, Dickens wasn't surprised to lower the Canadian record he already held.

"I felt strong and great at the (Canadian Olympic) trials … My immediate thought was, 'I can go 59.' I knew the swim was there," he said. "I was always excel in my second swim so I go into tonight (looking for a) top eight then go for a medal."

The Canadian women's 4 x 100 freestyle relay team of Julia Wilkinson, Victoria Poon, Heather MacLean and Samantha Cheverton swam Saturday but did not qualify for the final.

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Alec Page knew he was in deep when he saw who was lining up next to him. Three lanes over was Hungary's Laszlo Cseh; next to him was the mighty Michael Phelps.

It was an Olympic initiation for the 18-year-old Page, the youngest member of Canada's Olympic swim team, and the result was expected.

While Phelps and Cseh finished 1-2 in Saturday's 400-metre individual medley, Page touched the wall in the eighth place, six seconds behind the leader. Although Page said the race didn't go as well as he'd hoped, he took away a measure of pride knowing this was only the start of his Olympic career.

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"I knew they were in my heat," Page said of Phelps and Cseh. "I wasn't too worried. They're just people."

Page, from Victoria, was the first swimmer to qualify for London at the Canadian Olympic trials and the first into the water here. He will also race in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay.

"What I'd to take away from these Games is how many Canadians got behind me," he said. "It's really humbling."

Phelps wasn't impressed with his time in the heats, qualifying eighth-fastest and grabbing the last spot in the evening final

The good news, said Phelps, was, "You can't win a gold medal in the morning."

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About the Author
Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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