OTTAWA – Swimming Canada has officially announced team selections for two major events taking place in Europe this summer.
In conjunction with Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Canada will send 38 student-athletes to compete in swimming at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia (July 6-17). In addition, three young swimmers have been chosen to gain valuable experience on the Mare Nostrum European junior tour.
Summer Universiade website:http://kazan2013.ru/en
Team Canada websites:http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013 https://www.swimming.ca/SummerUniversiadeKazan
CIS and Swimming Canada announced the Universiade team Thursday. Highlighting the red and white roster are no less than eight members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic team, including Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., Savannah King of Vernon, B.C., Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., Katerine Savard of Cap-Rouge, Que., Tera Van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., Tommy Gossland of Nanaimo, B.C., Alec Page of Cortes Island, B.C., and David Sharpe of Halifax.
MacLean, a University of Georgia student, reached the 400-metre freestyle final in London, finishing in seventh place.
Horner, who stars at the University of Victoria, and King, the reigning two-time CIS female swimmer of the year from UBC, also wore the Maple Leaf at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Van Beilen, also of UBC, and Sharpe, who swims for Dalhousie, are among 14 returning athletes who competed at the last Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China, in 2011. Six of them – including Sharpe – will make their third straight FISU Games appearance, a streak that started in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia.
No sport has brought more Universiade glory to Canada over the years. Since the inaugural biennial competition was held in 1959, Canadian swimmers have won 98 medals, 21 of them gold – both record tallies for the country.
Canada returned from Shenzhen with three podium finishes, all of them silver medals, including Van Beilen in the 50 and 100 breaststroke events, as well as Hilary Caldwell, a University of Victoria standout from White Rock, B.C., in the 200-m backstroke.
“We have a really strong team, with 14 members of the FISU contingent going on to the FINA world championships in Barcelona immediately afterwards. There’s a mix of experience and first-time senior team members on the team and we’re looking forward to representing Canada,” said John Atkinson, high performance director for Swimming Canada. “The event has grown over the years and is now an exceptionally high standard event. It’s certainly played its part in the development of many Olympians. It is a great opportunity for these swimmers to experience a world-class competition in a multi-sport village environment, which will set them up well for the quad as we move towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”
The Canadian squad heading to Kazan is made up of 19 women and 19 men, including 30 student-athletes from CIS universities, five from NCAA schools and three from the Quebec Cegep system. The Universiade swimming competition runs from July 10-17. The FINA world championships in Barcelona follow from July 19 to Aug. 4.
Meanwhile, junior swimmers Evan White of Oakville, Ont., Jeffrey Swanston of Newmarket, Ont., and Breanne Siwicki of Winnipeg will wear the Maple Leaf at another major event in Europe. The annual Mare Nostrum Junior Tour runs from June 7-19 this year, and includes stops at meets in Barcelona and Canet, France, with training opportunities in between. Coach Sean Baker of the Oakville Aquatic Club will join National Junior Coach Ken McKinnon in guiding the Mare Nostrum team on this important development opportunity.
“These are some of our country’s most promising young swimmers and the Mare Nostrum Junior Tour is a valuable measuring stick in their growth,” McKinnon said. “It’s unique because we’ll be swimming at multiple competitions, with travel and training between them. That makes it a challenging circuit.”
PHOTO: Francois Laplante, Freestyle Photography