For the first time in organization history, Swimming Canada will host a selection trials to select the National Open Water Team. The inaugural edition of the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials will be held not in Canada, but instead in the Cayman Islands on April 27th (with a weather makeup date of April 28th) at Governors Beach on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea.
Previously, Canada had chosen its open water teams based on performances of meets organized by other organizations or national federations, usually closer to the World Championship or Olympic Qualifying event that they were trialing for. The 2019 Trials are especially important because they could, in theory, be the first stage of Olympic Qualifying. Swimmers who finish in the top 10 of the 10k at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea will automatically qualify for the same event at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Besides Worlds, the race will also be a qualifier for the Pan American Games and World University Games.
“We wanted to hold a Trials at an earlier time so that coaches and athletes have the time to be able to prepare properly and obviously we can’t do that in Canada because of the water temperature,” explained Mark Perry, Swimming Canada’s Distance/Open Water Coach. “I’m really excited that we’re having the chance to run our own Open Water Trials. We’re in the position where we’ve got enough athletes that are interested in competing in the event and that want to race to get on teams. It’s going to be a great event hopefully.”
Canada’s highest finishes in open water at the 2017 World Championships came from the mixed relay, which placed 11th, and Eric Hedlin individually, who was 14th in the 5k. Their best finishers in the Olympic-distance, the 10k, were from Richard Weinberger (23rd in the men’s race) and Stephanie Horner (28th in the women’s race). Weinberger is the country’s only Olympic medalist in open water swimming, earning a bronze medal in London in 2012.