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Canadian teens make world championships debuts

YEOSU, South Korea –  Two promising young women made their FINA World Championships debuts Sunday in the 10-km open water marathon.

Toronto native Kate Sanderson finished 35th and Chantel Jeffrey of Island Swimming/Victoria NextGen came 45th in the early morning race in Yeosu, South Korea, which took place Saturday evening in Canadian time zones.

Sanderson, the 19-year-old Canadian champion in the distance, hung with the front pack early, and even held the lead briefly on the second of six laps. As the pace picked up on Lap 3, she began to drop towards the back of the front pack and eventually settled into the middle of the 64-swimmer field.

China’s Xin Xin was the winner in 1:54:47.2, with Sanderson finishing about five and a half minutes behind. Jeffrey, 17, crossed the finish line just under two minutes later.

“I had the courage to go for it at the beginning, hoping I could hold on,” said Sanderson, who was 10th at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships and eighth at the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.

“Coming in we knew that this was going to be a really tough test for the young members of the team,” said Open Water Head Coach Mark Perry. “Both the girls are really inexperienced and coming into a world championships against obviously a great field of fantastic swimmers was always going to be a big ask. In terms of Kate, she really did put herself in some good positions during the race. She went for it, she was up there and towards the end of the fourth lap around the turn she took a bit of a hit, her cap pulled back, she lost her goggles, had to stop and readjust them. It’s very difficult to then catch up with the pack.”

Sanderson called this race “a really good learning experience.”

“This was a lot faster and a lot more aggressive. There was a couple times I got hit really hard in the face or someone grabbed my shoulder or ankle,” she said. “Everyone no matter what lap it was, was going for it.”

Open water competition continues Tuesday (Monday evening in Canadian time zones) as Victoria’s Jon McKay and Vancouver’s Hau-Li Fan compete in the men’s 10-km. The top 10 swimmers in the Olympic distance event earn spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Both women will be back in action for the 5-km Wednesday (Tuesday in Canadian time zones).

“Kate’s very keen to go back to the drawing board, come back in a couple days and race the 5-km, and Chantel the same,” Perry said.

Full open water results:

FINA TV (, CBC ( and Radio-Canada( will webcast the open water races live from Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park, approximately 90 km southeast of host city Gwangju. Viewers can download the CBC broadcast schedule to sync with smartphone calendar apps here:

The pool competition kicks off July 21 at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, Korea. Visit for bios, profiles and preview stories, and follow Swimming Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the championships.