OTTAWA (ISN) – Four Canadian swimmers will compete this weekend in Setubal, Portugal at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swimming Qualifier with high hopes ofearning Canada’s first ever spot in the 10k Open Water race at the Olympics. The women’s race will be held on June 9 and the men’s event on June 10.
Zsofia Balaz of Toronto and Nadine Williams of Sherwood Park, Alta. will be aiming to be within the top 9 crossing the finish line to secure their place for London 2012. Balaz, who was the first National champion in the women’s 10k, is driven to become Canada’s first qualifier for the Marathon swimming event at the Olympics since it was first introduced to the Games line up in Beijing.
Williams, now a veteran in Open water arena, will be using her international experience to guide her through this test of endurance and crack the top 9.
Richard Weinberger of Victoria, BC and Xavier Desharnais of Sherbrooke will be vying for a spot in the Men’s 10k event on the following day.
Weinberger has made a name for himself in the past year wining key Marathon events.
He won the Olympic test event last summer at Hyde Park, and went on to wining the Pan American Games. During the World Cup season, Weinberger collected a silver in Argentina, and bronze in Brazil. He is looking at continuing his success in Portugal.
Desharnais, has been achieving great progress internationally over the past years, will be competing for that Olympic berth.
Twenty swimmers (top 10 for both gender) have already secured their place for London based on the results of the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai. Two places (one in each gender category) are automatically reserved for Great Britain, the host.
The remaining 28 London berths will be decided in Setubal, Portugal.
It will be the last opportunity for 102 swimmers from 44 countries to make the Olympic line-up.
According to FINA, the international governing body for swimming, the first 9 women and 9 men to cross the finish line will book a ticket for the Olympic marathon swimming event.Another 10 (5 women and 5 men) will qualify through continental representation (taking into account the best ranked athlete not yet qualified).