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The Globe and Mail

Canadian men's eight rowing team sets world record

From top: Powerful start of Ukraine, Great Britain, Canada and Poland during the men's Eight Heat 2 race at the World Rowing Cup on Lake Rotsee in Lucerne, Switzerland, Friday, May 25, 2012.

Sigi Tischler/Associated Press

The plan going in was simple: hit the competition hard and let them wonder what Canada would be like at the Olympics.

The Canadian men's eight rowing team took those instructions to heart Friday by setting a world record time at a World Cup meet in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Victoria-based crew covered 2,000 metres in five minutes 19.35 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 5:19.85 set by the U.S. at the Athens Olympics.

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With its sizzling time, Canada earned a direct berth in Saturday's final.

Heading into the meet, the rowers had talked of finally getting a chance to compete instead of always training.

"We don't get to race very often – two or three times a year," said Andrew Byrnes of Toronto. "That's why every race is so important. The practice to racing ratio has got to be the most extreme. We train three times a day, six days a week for a couple of six-minute races two or three times a year."

The Canadian men's eight won the gold medal in 2008 with a largely different crew than the 2012 lineup.

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

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