LAC-MÉGANTIC, QC – Philippe Guertin of St-Hubert, QC, and Stephanie Horner of Bathurst, NB, were the top Canadians at the FINA/Hosa 10-km Marathon Swimming World Cup 2015 in Lac-Mégantc, QC, Saturday afternoon.
Both swimmers finished in fifth place in their respective races. Guertin, from Club aquatique Montréal, tied with France’s Damien Cattin-Vidal at a time of 2:09:01.10. Horner, also out of the Club aquatique Montréal, crossed the line at 2:24:05.80.
Horner, 26, was happy with her result, especially in front of friends and family.
“I’m pleased with fifth,” she said. “Of course, long-term, I hope to improve with that, but I feel like I swam a strong race and I’m a strong swimmer.
“This race, against this tough field will give me good experience going forward.”
Guertin, 24, was part of a pack that overtook then-race leader, London 2012 bronze medalist and Canadian Richard Weinberger, and finished in fifth in a tight pack that was separated first-through-eighth by just three-and-a-half seconds.
“I felt my last 100-m was my strongest,” Guertin said. “I’m happy with that result, especially with Richard in the field. I know he’s a tough test and an incredible athlete.”
Australia’s Rhys Mainstone, 25, took the gold on the men’s side, with a time of 2:08:58.60. Brazil’s Allan Do Carmo, 26, and Diogo Villarinho, 21, went second and third, with times of 2:08:59.30 and 2:09:00.10 respectively.
Rachele Bruni, 25, of C.S. Esercito in Italy took the women’s crown at 2:23:09.00, while Anna Olasz, 22, of Szegedi Uszo Egylet in Hungary finished in second with 2:23:42.70. Germany’s Angela Maurer, 40, got to the podium with a time of 2:23:44.10, good for third place.
Both top Canadians are battling adversity this season. Horner is trying to make it as an open water swimmer after two Olympic games as a pool swimmer. Guertin swam through parts of this season with a broken hand.
But both credited a never-say-die attitude for their success Saturday.
“The pain was incredible,” Guertin said of swimming with the injury, which he was third among Canadians in Mexico while under the duress, finishing in 33rd place overall. “It was good to continue to finish the season strong and keep it up. I never quit. I don’t believe in it.”
“When I [started swimming at an elite level], I was anti-open water,” Horner explained. “I’m learning to like it now. I’m learning when to apply the speed and when to go for it. I’ve always had a strong sprint.”
Horner competed in Beijing 2008 in the 200-m freestyle, 200-m and 400-m butterfly and the 4×200-m freestyle relay. She followed that up in London 2012, competing in the 400-m individual medley.
“It’s a completely different kind of swimming,” she continued. “It’s aerobic, where indoors is more of a sprint. You have to adapt to the elements out here. Every race is different. There’s strategy and you have to save energy and know when to push and when to fall back.”
Most disappointed on the day was Horner’s London 2012 teammate Weinberger, 25, who led for a good portion of the race before he was overtaken by several swimmers, boxed out and swam over at the end, finishing in seventh spot with a time of 2:09:02.00.
“It was my first straight shot [competition],” Weinberger explained. “I am very frustrated. I still have energy left.
“I was beaten by a few swimmers I’m sure I can beat, but it was a learning experience to do the straight race for the first time. I’m happy in that way; that I got to experience that.”
Weinberger, training out of UBC Dolphins Swim Club, has already locked in a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The bronze-medal winner at London 2012 has a new appetite for competitors in the 10-km.
“No one will beat me anymore,” he said. “I will put the hammer down and make sure I don’t get overtaken again. At 50-m to the end, no mercy. [I’m racing] for Canada. I don’t care who it is or what it is, I’ll drown before I let anyone else pass me.
“At about 7-and-a-half kilometers, I made a judgement call and I second guessed my training. I could have powered through and led to the finish, but I held back, thinking it was too early. It was the wrong call.”
The Olympian also gave credit to his teammate Guertin, who overtook him within the group in the final stretch.
“It’s nice to see some younger swimmers come up to this level and compete,” Weinberger said. “He’s getting up there in the national ranks, and internationally as well. His race earlier this year in Mexico with the broken hand was something else. He’s a competitor.”
Other Canadians rounding out the top ten on the women’s side were national team member Jade Dusablon, 21, out of C.N. Region de Québec, who crossed the line in sixth place at 2:24:46.30, and then a trio of Canadians to round out the top ten: Victoria Mock, 18, from Pacific Coast Swimming, Sabryna Lavoie, 23, from l’Université de Laval Rouge et Or, and Kaitlin Gervais, 19, from Pacific Coast.
On the men’s side, Nicolas Massé-Savard, 20, of C.N. Gatineau finished in 10th spot with a time of 2:09:31.50. Xavier Desharnais, 25, from Club de Natation CALAC Lasalle crossed the line in 12th, at 2:12:20.20.
This was the second of two FINA marathon events in Canada this season. Lac Saint-Jean, QC, hosted a FINA 10-km event in July, where Canadians picked up bronze medals from both the men’s and women’s races, thanks to Massé-Savard and Gabrielle Soucisse. Soucisse, 25, finished in 11th spot Saturday.
There are two events left in the FINA/Hosa 10-km marathon circuit for 2015, with the next one in Chun’an, China in October.
Swimming news courtesy of Swimming Canada.