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Canadian Julia Wilkinson’s 100-metre backstroke heat a religious experience

Canada Julia Wilkinson competes in the women's 100-metre backstroke heat at the Aquatic Centre in the Olympic Village at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Sunday, July 29, 2012.

The Canadian Press

Julia Wilkinson gave an Olympic performance Sunday. Her swim was good, but her description of it was better. After finishing her heat in the 100-metre backstroke, the Oakville, Ont., native likened the last few strokes of her race to a religious experience.

"I think I saw God in the last 20 metres. He was singing The Final Countdown."

Wilkinson's showing in a time of 59.94 seconds qualified her for the evening's semi-finals and a shot at Monday's final. It was a turnabout performance given how her day began.

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Before arriving at the London Aquatics Centre for her first swim of the meet, Wilkinson succumbed to her nerves and pending visit with the Lord.

"I threw up – in the toilet, not in the ready room so point for me," she kidded in the mixed zone. "I was like, 'This is the biggest meet and the biggest day of my life so I'm okay with this.' Then I felt better, an adrenalin thing, and I'd rather be on that side, being so nervous than too relaxed.

"Off the record, I don't want my coach to know (she got sick)."

Wilkinson insisted there were some adjustments she could make to go faster in the semifinals. She is looking to become the first individual Canadian to make a final here. Ryan Cochrane had made the 400 free final only to be bumped when Park Taehwan was reinstated by FINA after a supposed false start.

In other Sunday heats, Canadians Tera Van Beilen and Jillian Tyler both advanced to the semi-finals of the 100-metre breaststroke while Charles Francis did the same in the 100-metre back.

Blake Worsley won his heat in the 200 free but did not make the semis. Ryan Lochte, Sun Yang, Yannick Angel and Taehwan all qualified as did Brett Fraser of the Cayman Islands. Fraser has a Canadian citizenship and swam for the University of Florida team.

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