EILAT, Israel – The 12-member Canadian team for the FINA Open Water World Junior Swimming Championships is a confident bunch heading into what will be one of the biggest competitions of their young careers.
‘’The preparation with our camp in Spain and our staging in Cyprus have gone really well,’’ said Michael McGillivray of Regina, who’ll race in the men’s 16-17 age group 7.5-kilometre. ‘’We’ve been able to get accustomed to the climate and time zone, work as a team. We are excited to race and do really well for Canada.’’
More than 200 athletes between 14 and 19 years old from 38 countries representing all five continents will be taking the plunge in the Red Sea beginning Thursday. The other members of Canada’s men’s team are Raben Dommann of North Vancouver, also in the 16-17 age group 7.5-km; Alexander Axon of Markham, Ont., and Ian Friesen of Kitchener, Ont., in the boys 14-15-km and Nathan Beaudin-Bolduc of Quebec City and Alexander Katelnikoff of Calgary in the men’s 18-19 age group 10-km.
‘’We’ve been testing out different strategies and we have our plans A, B and C depending what the conditions are either from the elements or other competitors,’’ said Dommann. ‘’These are 12 of the most talented swimmers in Canada and we’re ready to do really well.’’
The women’s team members are: Emma O’Croinin of Edmonton and Kenna Smallegange in the girls 14-15 5-km; Ava Free of Calgary and Octavia Lau of New Westminster, B.C., in the women’s 16-17 age group 7.5-km; Rosalie Davidson of Montreal and U.S. based Kate Sanderson in the women’s 18-19 age group 10-km.
McGillivray, Katelnikoff, Lau and O’Croinin raced at recent the Junior Pan Pacs in Fiji. O’Croinin earned the bronze in the 1500-m freestyle. Sanderson, 18, competed at the senior Pan Pacific Championships last month in Tokyo.
‘’The Pan Pacs were a great experience and I hope to capitalize on that for this competition,’’ said Sanderson. ‘’To be in that environment with the best swimmers in the world I was able to watch all the little details that can make a difference especially in their preparations.’’
Mark Perry, Swimming Canada’s distance and open water coach, has been delighted with the dedication of his young troops over the past few weeks.
‘’The team has prepared meticulously and have been a pleasure to work with,’’ Perry said. ‘’They are a great bunch of athletes with an amazing team spirit and we are looking forward to showing the rest of the world what we can do.’’
On Thursday, the races scheduled are the boys and girls 14-15 age group five-km races and the 16-17 age group 7.5-km.
On Friday it’s the 18-19 age group 10-km and on Saturday, the team relays.