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london 2012

Canada's women's 4x200m freestyle relay team cheer on their teammate at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England 1, 8 01/2012.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

There is a common thread emerging among the Canadian athletes at the London Games, the cynic will presume it's the work of sports psychologists.

The theme in question: have fun.

Few have taken the instruction as literally as the women's 4 x 200-metre freestyle team, several of whom drew happy faces on their hands.

"We decided to have a good time," smiled 23-year-old Samantha Cheverton.

Confronted in the final by all the big swimming powers, they did just that - and posted a surprising fourth place finish - beating a Chinese squad that included 16-year-old phenom and double gold medalist Ye Shiwen and an Italian team with world record holder Federica Pellegrini.

"In the minds of other people, they might think oh, you came fourth, must be hard not getting a medal there. But for us it's a huge accomplishment," said anchor Brittany MacLean, an 18-year-old who was in her second Olympic final of the week. "This was all of our last races at the Olympics, and hopefully we'll be back for more later."

The team's other two members, Amanda Reason and Barbara Jardin, are 18 and 20 respectively, so perhaps there's much to look forward to.

When Jardin was asked about where she hopes to finish if she makes the team for 2016, she said "I don't want to say a certain place or anything, how about fourth and up?"

Martha McCabe, a 22-year-old from Toronto, placed fourth in a 200-metre breaststroke heat in which U.S. swimmer Rebecca Soni smashed the world record.

She will swim in Thursday's final.

Julia Wilkinson, 25, of Stratford, Ont., clocked a strong time in the heats but finished seventh in the evening semis of the women's 100-metre freestyle, missing out on the final.

On the men's side Toronto-born Tobias Oriwol finished seventh in his semi-final in the 200-metre backstroke - after swimming a personal best in the heats earlier in the day - and did not advance.

The 27-year-old urban planner said it was the final race of his career.