Setting a world record in the 200-metre breaststroke has put Annamay Pierse in position to win Canada's second swim medal at the world swimming championships.
Pierse won her semifinal in two minutes, 20.12 seconds Thursday, breaking the world mark of 2:20.22 American Rebecca Soni set at last summer's Beijing Olympics.
"I knew I had it in me and I knew I was going to have a great swim," said Pierse, 25, an Edmonton native who lives and trains in Vancouver.
Soni was second in the semifinals in 2:20.93. The two women will go head-to-head in today's final.
Pierre Lafontaine, Swimming Canada's chief executive officer, said Pierse will need another strong swim.
"The medals are hard to come by," said Lafontaine. "I think she is the girl to beat. She is certainly in the position to get a medal, but there are five girls in that position right now."
Martha McCabe of Vancouver also advanced to the final clocking the sixth fastest time in 2:22.75.
Ryan Cochrane of Victoria won a bronze medal Wednesday in the 800-metre freestyle.
While Pierce was thrilled with her performance, Brent Hayden was unable to defend his title in the 100-metre freestyle. The Vancouver swimmer finished fourth in a time of 47.27 seconds - missing the podium by two one-hundredths of a second.
"I was kind of wishing I was going to get something hung around my neck but it's a fast world," said Hayden, whose time would have earned him a silver medal in Beijing. "I put in the effort and that's all I can ask from myself.
"I did an amazing time but unfortunately there were three swimmers faster than me."
Brazil's Cesar Cielo Filho took gold in 46.91 seconds. He was followed by two French swimmers, Olympic champion Alain Bernard (47.12) and Frederick Bousquet (47.25).
Lafontaine said Hayden wasn't happy after his swim.
"When Brent was walking out of there he certainly wasn't happy with fourth place," he said. "I think that's the attitude all of these are at now."
Also Thursday, Audrey Lacroix of Montreal finished seventh in the 200 butterfly final. Her time of 2:05.95 broke the Canadian record she had established in Wednesday's preliminaries.
Australia's Jessicah Schipper won the race in a world-record time of 2:03.41.
The Canadian team of Genevieve Saumur of Montreal, Julia Wilkinson of Toronto, Alexandra Gabor of Whitehorse and Heather MacLean of Toronto finished eighth in the 4x200 freestyle relay in a Canadian record 7:49.14. China won the race in a world-record time of 7:42.08. The U.S. took the silver in 7:42.56 and Britain was third in 7:45.51.
Pierse was frustrated after a fifth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke earlier this week. She drowned her sorrows at a fast-food restaurant and came back ready to make amends.
"I went and had a few McDonald's," she laughed. "I got a little more power in my stroke and confidence. I just went in and did what I did."
Earlier this year, Pierse set a world record in the short-course 200 breaststroke.
Lafontaine said Pierse has enough left in the tank for today's final.
"She certainly looked very poised," he said. "She didn't look like she was over doing anything.
"She seemed quite together after the race."