U.S. Paralympic Swimming High Performance Director Queenie Nichols informed members of the U.S. Para-Swimming World Championship Team on Friday that they would be supported to compete at the newly-formed Toronto para meet in 2 weeks, but that they still plan on attending the yet-to-be-rescheduled Para Swimming World Championships.
The original championships, which were due for September 30th through October 6th in Mexico City, were postponed after a powerful earthquake hit central Mexico earlier this week, killing at least 293 through Friday afternoon’s official death toll. The IPC has not yet announced when or where the meet will be held, but many countries are making plans anyway. Australia, who already had athletes at the team’s staging camp in Dallas, will send its team to the Canadian Open in Toronto. That meet will be held from October 2nd-4th, on similar timing as the original World Championships.
Nichols, in her email, says that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) would cover the $100 entry fee for any Worlds team members who wanted to go to the Toronto meet, and also contribute $500 toward travel costs. While the USOC will send coaches to support athletes who choose to go to that meet, Nichols made it clear that their focus will continue to be on the rescheduled World Championships.
“We know the uncertainty of the past several days is difficult for everyone and many of you have concerns with your training moving forward,” the email reads. “We share those concerns. U.S. Paralympics Swimming supports World Para Swimming as they look for options for the Championships in the near future. They have assured us they will let us know their progress next week. We fully plan on attending the World Para Swimming Championships once they have been finalized.”
The Toronto meet will be a 3-session timed finals meet, with full details being finalized. While many high-level swimmers are expected to compete there, the meet has not been declared simply a replacement, in spite of geographical proximity. That’s largely because of the challenge of processing such a huge volume of visas in such a short period of time.
For countries like the United States and Australia, visas aren’t necessary for entry into Canada. The same is the case for members of the EU and Brazilians. For athletes from some countries, however, like Para-Swimming superpowers Ukraine and Russia, are required to obtain visas to enter the country.
Rumors have swirled about a similar meet emerging in Europe, possibly in Eindhoven, Netherlands, for other athletes, but no announcements have been made about that.