GRAND CAYMAN – Six young swimmers have been awarded $1,000 bursaries and will be part of the Canadian contingent at the Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands today.
The competition is a qualifier for the open water events at this summer’s Junior Pan Pacific Championships and FINA World Junior Open Water Championships. The bursary selections were based on performances at the Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria in April.
The swimmers awarded the bursaries are Victoria Mock of Victoria, Tessa Cieplucha and Lauren Lalumiere, both of Oakville, Ont., for the women and for the men Wyatt Yarish of Winnipeg, Jon McKay of Victoria and Nathan Sawicki of Medicine Hat, Alta.
The top two Canadian men and top two Canadian women in the 17-18 age group in today’s 10-km marathon will earn a nomination to the Junior Pan Pac team. That event is Aug. 27-31 in Maui, Hawaii.
The top-two 15-16-year-olds in the 5-km will compete at the open water world juniors Aug. 28-30 in Israel.
‘’The bursary program was there to entice more interest from our young swimmers in open water,’’ said Ken McKinnon, Swimming Canada’s national junior coach. ‘’The pool events available to juniors has expanded over the last eight years and now the open water opportunities are growing fast.’’
With Richard Weinberger winning a bronze medal in the 10-km at the 2012 Olympics in London, and fellow Victorian Eric Hedlin capturing silver in the 5-km at last year’s FINA World Championships, the open water events continue to grow in popularity with Canada’s top youth and junior swimmers.
‘’If you look at the participants of the open water 5-km that we do after each age group nationals for the last five years, it’s been well attended but it’s only once a year. Now with more international events there will be more opportunities,’’ said McKinnon.