July 19, 2013, Barcelona (ISN) – Canada’s first swimmers will hit the water Saturday as the open water competition begins at FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
Philippe Guertin of Montreal and Eric Hedlin of Victoria will take to Moll de la Fusta in the men’s 5-kilometre race at 7 a.m. ET. They’ll be the first Canadian competitors in swimming at the two-week marquee event, which continues with the pool competition from July 28 – Aug. 4. Championships will also be contested in water polo, diving, synchronized swimming, and a new discipline of high diving. For further information visit www.fina.org orwww.swimming.ca.
“The city looks beautiful and I’m really excited to start racing,” said Hedlin, who qualified by finishing 16th in the 10-km at the FINA World Cup open water competition in Cozumel, Mexico earlier this year.
“My goal is to try to take everything I have learned from Cancun to swim a smart race.”
Guertin and Hedlin are part of a five-person open water team, which also includes Victoria’s Richard Weinberger, Olympic bronze medallist in the 10-km.
“I think this is a good introduction for some of the athletes to get into the open water competition before we get to the 10-kilometre event, which is obviously the Olympic event on the program,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
Weinberger and Hedlin are set to compete in the 10-km at worlds on Monday.
“I am feeling great. Seeing all the competitors roll in gave me a boost of energy, the kind that I was looking for and the type I need to race well,” Weinberger said. “My goals are simple: to win. In my previous races I would shoot for top-10, top-five, top-three, but now all I want is the gold.”
Nadine Williams of Sherwood Park, Alta., and Zsofi Balazs of Toronto will race in the women’s 10-km Tuesday. Both10-km races start at 6 a.m. ET.
“This is the first world-level race for all of us after a big last year, and I think it is important to start the new quadrennial strong,” said Balazs, who also represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London. “I think we are all ready to swim fast and put open water in the spotlight a little bit. It’s time for open water to shine.
“This is “Planet Water” after all,” Balazs added, referencing the slogan for Barcelona 2013.
Atkinson likes the overall outlook for the open water team.
“We have the experience of Richard Weinberger, who is obviously an Olympic medallist, a great competitor and a very tough racer, and the new members of the open water team Eric Hedlin and Philippe Guertin swimming in their first world championships. They’re going to be in the hunt for a really good finish in this event,” Atkinson said. “On the women’s side, Nadine Williams and Zsofi Balazs both have got good experience and they’ll be looking to improve their positions in those events.”