Eric Hedlin

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Swimming Canada continues to make plans for nominating its Olympic team.

After previously invoking the unexpected circumstances clause of its Olympic team nomination criteria, Swimming Canada has selected two swimmers to represent Canada in the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier.

Stephanie Horner of Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Vancouver, and Victoria’s Eric Hedlin will join previously selected HPC-Van swimmers Kate Sanderson and Hau-Li Fan at the qualifier scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, on May 29-30.

Sanderson and Fan had earned their spots as Canada’s top finishers in the 10-km open water marathon swim at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships. Due to the cancellation of the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inability to hold a suitable substitute event, Swimming Canada’s Selection Committee chose Horner and Hedlin based on a variety of factors.

“The selection committee have had to look at performance history over the four-year Olympic quadrennial to determine the two selections best positioned to be successful alongside Hau-Li and Kate at that final marathon swimming qualifier,” explained High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson.”

Hedlin is a two-time medallist in the 5-km distance at the world championships, and also earned silver in the 10-km at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Horner is a three-time Olympian who has represented Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and 2018 Pan Pacific Championships since converting to open water from the pool.

With the top 10 men and 10 women from the 2019 worlds already qualified for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, an additional 15 spots per gender are on the line at the final qualifier. LINK:

“We acknowledge it’s a very challenging situation with the pandemic. It’s not how we would in normal circumstances select athletes, but given the situation we are in, we had to make selections based on an assessment of the athletes’ international performance history,” Atkinson said.

“The pandemic continues to have very real and deep impacts to lives, and has certainly affected our normal ways of doing things. We understand this may be hard for some athletes, and it has also been hard for our staff and volunteers who work very hard to support them,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “Our selection committee has had to make some difficult decisions this year in unpredictable circumstances. We recognize that this has had an impact on lives and we hope that the future will bring back some of our predictability when health and safety protocols allow.”