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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

University of Victoria Vikes swimmer Richard Weinberger (Surrey, B.C.) took the 2011-12 varsity season off with one thing on his mind – a medal in London. The 22-year-old open-water swimmer did just that, earning a bronze, Canada’s 17th medal of the games, in the men’s 10-km marathon swim, held at Hyde Park.

Weinberger finished in one hour, 50 minutes and 0.30 seconds behind gold-medal winner Oussama Mellouli (1:49:55.10) of Tunisia. Mellouli also took home the bronze in the men’s 1500-m freestyle in the pool, just 0.68 seconds behind Vikes silver medallist Ryan Cochrane (Victoria).

Germany’s Thomas Lurz picked up the silver medal in 1:49:58.50, while reigning world championSpyridon Gianniotis, of Greece, took fourth in 1:50:05.30.

The 10-km swim was introduced into the Olympics in 2008 and Weinberger becomes the first Canadian to win a medal in the open-water event. Ron Jacks, Weinberger’s coach and former Olympian, was also the coach of one of the world’s best open-water swimmers at the time, Greg Streppel.

london 2012With the bronze medal, Weinberger becomes the sixth athlete of the nine former or current Vikes participating in London to bring home a medal for Canada. Victoria’s Cochrane in the men’s 1500-m freestyle, men’s eight rowers Doug Csima and Gabe Bergen, as well as women’s eight rowers Darcy Marquardt and Rachelle Viinberg all earned silver medals at the London games.