Weinberger Qualifies For World Open-Water Team

Richard Weinberger (UVPCS), Simon Tobin of Ste-Foy, Que., Zsofia Balazs of Toronto and Nadine Williams of Edmonton grabbed the Canadian team spots for the 10 kilometre races at next month’s world championships in open water swimming on Friday at team trials.

In the men’s 10 kilometre race, world championship bronze medallist Fran Crippen led U.S., swimmers to a medal sweep clocking one hour and 57 minutes and 14.728 seconds.  Charles Peterson was second in 1:57:15.457 and Andrew Gemmell third in 1:57:15.840.  The race was also a world team trial for the Americans as well as their national championships.

Weinberger took fifth spot in 1:57:19.467 and Tobin was ninth in 1:58:25.729.  The top two Canadians in both the men’s and women’s races earned a berth on the Canadian team for the world open water swimming championships set for Roberval, Que., July 17-23.

This past February, the 19-year-old Weinberger showed plenty of promise at a World Cup open water race in Mexico placing 21st but finishing less than a minute behind the winner.

‘’I’m pretty happy,’’ said Weinberger.  ‘’The very first turn was probably the biggest highlight for me.  I really had to gun it or get crushed by 40 grown men.  After that it was a pretty smooth race until the end I just didn’t have the kick to get into the top-three.’’

Tobin was pondering retirement late season but changed his mind when Roberval was awarded the worlds.

‘’I had a good strategy for my race,’’ said Tobin, 25.  ‘’There are a lot new swimmers in this event because it is an Olympic event now and I think I benefited from my experience.  I was always able to keep myself in a good position.’’

Xavier Desharnais of LaSalle, Que., was 12th, Aimeson King of Victoria 22nd, Max Moore of Calgary 35th, Scott Jessett of Toronto 37th while Craig Dagnall of Victoria did not finish.

In the women’s 10 kilometre, Americans were 1-2-3 with Chloe Sutton first in 1:59:18.821, Christine Jennings second in 1:59:20.356  and Eva Fabian third in 1:59:20.465.

Balazs in her first open water race since the world championships last year and since suffering a concussion in October while training, placed 11th  in 2:05:46.840.  Williams was 17th in 2:08:29.326.

‘’This is just a great start to a new season for me,’’ said Balazs, 19.  ‘’I wasn’t that confident going in, I was doubting myself, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it.  But I had to put that aside and do my best.  I felt good for the first three laps and stayed with the pack, then the last two laps were harder.’’

On that third lap, Balazs was accidentally kicked in the face by another swimmer and suffered a chipped tooth.  ‘’That scared me a lot,’’ said Balazs.  ‘’It was a bit of set back but in the end I ended up in a pretty good spot.’ 

Julianne Brown of Calgary was 21st, Nathalie Sacco of Victoria 31st, Joanie Guilmette-Simard of Quebec City 33rd, Aurélie Côté of Quebec City 38th and Gabrielle Trottier of La Baie, Que., 39th, Karen Jewell of Gatineau, Que., and Heather Maitland of Toronto were both disqualified.

There’ll be another opportunity for Canadian swimmers to qualify for the worlds on Sunday with the men’s and women’s five kilometre race.