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Hau-Li Fan leads Canadian contingent at open water World Cup in Hong Kong

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HONG KONG – In just his third 10K open water race, promising Hau-Li Fan kept pace with the lead pack at the year’s final FINA/HOSA Marathon Swimming World Cup in Hong Kong.

Fan, of Burnaby, B.C., is just three months removed from his debut at the full distance.

“In terms of time, Hau-Li wasn’t that far behind the winner,” Swimming Canada distance and open water coach Mark Perry said. “There wasn’t much time between first and 30th. I know now that he can deliver that intensity and now there’s just some things to work on technically … last weekend he didn’t see the pack breaking away so he didn’t finish in that leading pack. So his goal this weekend was to finish in that leading pack. We’re pretty pleased with his performance here.”

Canada sent a five-swimmer team to the two World Cup meets, which also included an event in Chun’An, China on Oct. 15. Olympic veteran Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., was 35th in the women’s race, while Breanne Siwicki of Winnipeg and Marit Anderson of Calgary were 49th and 50th respectively. On the men’s side, Alex Katelnikoff of Calgary was 53rd.

“We’re here for the experience and it’s massively valuable for us,” said Perry, who came aboard with Swimming Canada in November 2016 as its first distance/open water coach. “It’s impossible for us in Canada to race on home soil at this time of year and it’s not very often you get to race the best people in the world. Going halfway around the world is what you have to do to find the  competition and to learn and bring along the next generation of swimmers.”

For Horner, 28, and Siwicki, 22, the emphasis was on testing tactics.

“It’s just working on different strategies and trying to get into good positions in the pack,” Perry said. “We tried a couple different strategies, like trying to hold on to the front of the pack which is a tough thing to do. They did it to different levels, but they were in the pack at the beginning and they’ll learn from it.”

The teenagers, Anderson and Katelnikoff, are each targeting the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships 2018. The world juniors are held every two years, usually in September.

“This race is the best in the world, very deep field, very strong field, and Marit and Alex, they both improved from last weekend,” Perry said. “For them this a  chance to work with me and work with the team and do 10Ks at a much higher level than at the world juniors. They got learn where their weaknesses are so they can go back and have that to work on next year.”