Victoria’s Jon McKay posted a pair of top-five finishes in a strong international field at the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships over the weekend.
The 24-year-old from Victoria finished fifth out of 34 entrants in the 10-kilometre Olympic marathon distance Saturday. Olympic champion Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands was the winner in 1:55:45.24, a dominant 4.22 seconds ahead of American Jordan Wilimovsky, the 2015 world champion and 2018 Pan Pacific Championships gold medallist. Wilimovsky out-touched bronze medallist Nick Sloman of Australia, and Matan Roditi of Israel, as the trio finished within a half-second of each other. McKay came fifth just over three seconds later.
“I knew that being up with the top Australians and the visitors would be tough as they all performed really well at worlds,” said McKay, who finished 24th at the 2019 FINA World Championships after winning the 10-km at the Canadian Open Water Trials.
“I wanted to improve upon where I had been last year at this time and to challenge for the lead at different points in the race while being competitive.”
McKay followed up with a second-place finish in the 5-km Sunday, just under 19 seconds behind Weertman, who won in 56:00.24. He then added a third effort in as many days Monday, swimming the second-fastest 5-km time trial at 55:21.95, behind only Sloman.
“The races were all where I wanted to be. I knew coming in that it was going to be tough to swim three long events in a row, starting with the 10-km,” McKay said. “It shows that my training has been progressing well since the summer and how we’ve tried to change what we practice to improve on my weaknesses.”
Next up for McKay and many of Canada’s other top open water swimmers is the LEN Open Water Swimming Cup on March 8 in Eilat, Israel. That event will serve as a tune-up for the Canadian Open Water Trials April 25-26 in Grand Cayman, where the top Canadians will look to keep their Tokyo 2020 Olympic hopes alive by advancing to the final Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier being held May 30-31 in Fukuoka, Japan.