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Sask. swimmer qualifies for 2024 Olympic Games, sets Canadian record

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A swimmer from Saskatoon has qualified for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games in Paris.

Blake Tierney is set to compete on the world stage in the 100-metre and 200-metre backstroke.

With a time of 1:56.74 in the 200-metre backstroke, Tierney not only qualified for the Olympics but also broke a Canadian record.

"I shook the water out of my ears and heard them say, 'Canadian record.' I had to look up at the board ... I was kind of surprised by that," Tierney told CTV News, laughing.

This will be Tierney's first Olympic Games and first time in Paris.

"I'm very happy. I can't wait to go to Paris. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm super grateful for the performances I had and super grateful for everyone around me as well," the 22-year-old said.

Tierney's parents enrolled him in swimming lessons when he was around five years old.

"And then my competitive instinct caught me and I started trying to win," he said.

Tierney is currently living in Vancouver, where he's studying biomedical engineering at the University of British Columbia and swimming at the school's High Performance Centre.

He grew up in Saskatoon and competed with the Goldfins Swim Club throughout high school.

"Blake was always a very energetic kid. It was great to coach him. He always wanted to improve — which meant that I always needed to improve, and have the answers," Steven Hitchings, the head coach of the Goldfins, told CTV News.

Hitchings said he's proud to see Tierney qualify for the Olympics and will be cheering him on at home.

"It's a really proud moment, to see someone go on and do that. He had a close call in 2021 for Tokyo, so it's good to see him go through the next three years of his life and come back even stronger for it," Hitchings said.

After qualifying for the Olympics, Tierney celebrated at his cabin on Brightsand Lake, Sask.

"After trials, I went straight to the cabin with my grandma and grandpa for fishing for two days, but then had to get right back into training," Tierney said.

The Paris Olympic Games begin on July 26.

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