The Australian swimming team that was originally selected for the 2017 Para World Swimming Championships will instead race at next week’s 2017 Para Swimming Canadian Open in Toronto, Canada. The decision comes after the IPC postponed the World Championships due for Mexico City after a devastating earthquake hit central Mexico and killed at least 286 people as of posting.
Some portion of the Australian team had already departed for the team’s staging camp in Dallas. The rest were halted in Australia after the disaster.
“We recognise that this is also an upsetting situation for many athletes who have worked incredibly hard for this event, but their safety is paramount and I commend this decision from the IPC,” Anderson said.
The Canadian Open falls in the same competition window as the World Championships were due for, from October 2nd-4th. Swimming Australia Paralympic High Performance Manager Adam Pine says that made the decision an obvious choice.
“The Canadian Open is the optimal alternative event for our team for a number of reasons. Our swimmers are ready and wanting to race and this event will provide a good alternative for them,” Pine said.
“The confirmation of the event coupled with the communication from World Para Swimming that the event will be sanctioned and all results will be in the world rankings will provide the swimmers with meaningful competition as they turn their focus to Toronto.
“The timing of the event is also perfect in that it sits exactly within the window of competition that the world championships would have covered. Our swimmers are tapered and ready and this event will mean less impact or disruption to our athletes’ plans.
“The event will also provide an opportunity for our Dolphins to race in a safe and secure environment as well as provide the essential opportunity for those that require it, to post times for Commonwealth Games selection. I would like to thank Swimming Canada for providing this opportunity for our team,” Pine said.
Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson says that the team chose the Canadian Open as compared to waiting for the IPC to reschedule or move the World Championships because of certainty.
“What the Canadian event offers is certainty. By competing in Toronto, athletes will have the opportunity to race and to establish international competition times and rankings that will position them to be considered for Commonwealth Games selection.
“As such, the Canadian Open will serve as our Para Dolphins major event for 2017 regardless of any decision reached by World Para Swimming for future Para World Championships. We understand that other nations are making similar competition plans.
“Our high-performance team have been working extremely hard to provide a quality solution and have done so very quickly. I commend all of our team including the swimmers, coaches and staff for their professionalism and willingness to be flexible to ensure that we find the right solution.
“Very importantly, we recognise the ongoing tragedy that is occurring in Mexico. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragic natural disaster,” Anderson said.
Anderson implies that other federations are considering a similar move, but we have not found any other announcements yet – including from World Para Swimming powers the United States, Russia, Canada, Netherlands and Ukraine.