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Swimming Canada – LAKE BALATON, HUNGARY – Richard Weinberger, Stephanie Horner, Eric Hedlin and Breanne Siwicki completed FINA’s first ever team relay in 11th place at the World Championships in Hungary.

The new mixed relay format was a first at the world championships level and saw teams use a variety of strategies and swimmer orders to compete.

“When I found out I would be swimming first in the relay it ignited something within. Knowing I would be racing some of the top swimmers in the world really motivated me.”

Weinberger had the team in third place after his leg of the race. “I loved being a part of that.” he said.

Horner, who swam the second leg, faced a number of men from competing countries.

“It was pretty cool to see the different strategies from different countries. On my part of the relay, my only job was to hold on against a lot of guys.”

France ended up with gold, while USA and Italy captured silver and bronze. Full results are available here: http://www.omegatiming.com/File/Download?id=000111050002DA04FFFFFFFFFFFFFF01

The team enjoyed the relay atmosphere in an open water race. “Relays are so fun, it’s all about spirit. It’s nice because you get to share the pain and you can’t let your team down,” said Horner.

Hedlin, of Victoria, agreed. “I love relays, I love open water, so this is the best combination of the two.”

National team rookie Siwicki was pleased with the experience.

“I thought it was good to be a part of a team with so much racing experience. It was great that we finished better than we expected to.”

Mark Perry, Swimming Canada’s Distance/Open Water Coach, was satisfied with how the relay completed the open water events.

“I think that was a fitting finale for the team. It was a great team performance.”

“We leave Hungary with things each of the six swimmers know they need to improve and work on. As an overall Canadian team we’ve got things to work on to come back stronger and faster in the years leading into Tokyo.”

High Performance Director John Atkinson echoed Perry’s sentiment.

“I think the team now knows what they need to do to improve moving forward. This was a good experience for the team to continue to gain the skills and experience necessary to compete in the open water at a high level.”

Pool racing at the FINA World Championships begins Sunday in Budapest.

The World Championships are taking place until July 30, and will be streamed live by CBC at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/aquatics