Team Canada set for first FINA World Championships in three years
BUDAPEST, Hungary – After a year-long delay due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Team Canada swimmers are ready to dive in at the FINA World Championships.
A total of 32 swimmers will represent the country in Budapest, Hungary, including 18 female and 14 male athletes. The pool and open water athletes qualified for Team Canada based on their performances at the Bell Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria in April.
Action begins for the 27 pool swimmers with preliminary heats at 9 a.m. local time Saturday (4 a.m. ET / 1
a.m. PT) at Duna Arena. Heats run at that time each day of the eight-day pool meet, with finals starting at 6 p.m. (1p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT) daily. All finals will be livestreamed on CBC Sports digital platforms: the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.
The world championships run through July 3, with open water swimming to follow the pool competition. Canada won eight medals in the pool (2 gold, six bronze) and one (bronze) in open water at the 2019 edition of the event in Gwangju, Korea.
“Our expectations are for athletes to progress from prelims to semifinals and finals, and if you’re in a final you can challenge for the podium,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson, the Team Leader. “We’re continually moving forward. Each athlete is on their path to improvement and what they want to achieve this summer.”
Kylie Masse, the two-time defending world champion in the 100-m backstroke, returns to Budapest, the site of her 2017 world record.
“I am looking forward to getting the opportunity to race, especially in front of a crowd – it’s been a really long time,” said Masse. “I love this pool and this facility. It will be great to kick things off tomorrow and see what Team Canada can do.”
Masse and High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Penny Oleksiak, with five medals each, are Canada’s most decorated swimmers of all time at the FINA long-course worlds. HPC-Ontario swimmers Sydney Pickrem (4 career medals), Yuri Kisil (3), Maggie Mac Neil (3) and Kayla Sanchez (2) are also among the 17 team members with previous long-course world championships experience. Rebecca Smith (4) of the University of Calgary, Taylor Ruck (3), and Javier Acevedo (2) round out the returning medallists.
The 14 rookies include Olympians Katrina Bellio, Tessa Cieplucha, Ruslan Gaziev, Finlay Knox, and 15-year-old Summer McIntosh, who is entered in three of the four events she won at Trials (400-m freestyle, 200-m butterfly and 400-m individual medley.)
Eric Hedlin, with two medals to his credit, is among the seven open water swimmers, two of whom (Bellio and Abby Dunford) are doing double duty after the pool competition.
Working alongside Atkinson will be Iain McDonald, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director, who will serve as Assistant Team Leader. Swimming Canada Manager, Senior National Teams and Centres Janice Hanan will reprise her role as Team Manager.
Swimming Canada Senior Coach and HPC-Vancouver Interim Head Coach Martyn Wilby is the head coach, joined by HPC-Ontario Interim Head Coach Ryan Mallette, Linda Kiefer of University of Toronto Varsity Blues, Greg Arkhurst, head coach of Montreal’s CAMO club, Mike Blondal of University of Calgary, Abderrahmane Tissira of Simon Fraser University and Vlastimil Cerny of University of Manitoba Bisons.
The Open Water Head Coach will be Swimming Canada Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry, joined by Paul Birmingham of Edmonton Keyano Swim Club and HPC-Vancouver Assistant Coach Mandy Bell. Senior Manager, High Performance Olympic Program Cynthia Pincott will serve as Open Water Team Manager.
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