BALATONFURED, Hungary – Josh Zakala of Kelowna, B.C., continued an impressive season in distance swimming on Saturday with a 13th place finish in the boys five kilometre race at the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.
Taylor Abbott of the U.S., won the gold medal in 56 minutes and 13.32 seconds. Jintong Yang of China was second in 56:17.64 and his compatriot Zhongyi Qiao third in 56:18.33.
Zakala, 16, was less than two minutes from the winner clocking 58:01.40 in his international debut. This past July Zakala won four gold medals, including the open water race, at the Age Group Nationals.
“I was really happy with the result and my performance,” said Zakala, who started open water racing at age 13. “I know I can race with these guys. I stayed with the front pack for more than half the race and that gave me a lot of confidence. It was really important to fight for a spot in the front right of the start.”
Fifteen-year-old Sebastian Paulin of Brantford, Ont., also in his international debut, took 33rd place.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Paulins. “It was pretty impressive the pace these guys swam at. There’s no doubt I need to work a lot more on my fitness. I had a really good start to the race but couldn’t sustain it.”
Competition ends Sunday with the team event..