YEOSU, South Korea – Vancouver’s Hau-Li Fan wasn’t content to just show up for his FINA World Championships debut.
With the first 10 open water swimming spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the line, the 21-year-old from Vancouver gave it his best shot to force his way in.
Fan hung with the top pack the entire race, and ultimately settled for a 17th-place finish in the 75-swimmer field. Victoria’s Jon McKay, 23, came 24th.
Fan was within the top 10 for most of the first half of the race, and as close as 11th at the end of the fourth of six laps at Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park. Ultimately he finished in 1:48:21.1, which was 25.2 seconds behind winner Florian Wellbrock of Germany and 16 seconds out of the Top 10.
“Coming out of that race I have no regrets. I think I did my best and I’m happy with my results,” Fan said. “Obviously the big goal was to make the Top 10. The other goals I had leading up to it would be to be competitive and be in that leading pack from the start to the finish, which I was. There’s still some things to work on but for now I’m happy with that.”
Fan will now turn his focus to the Olympic qualification process next year.
“I think it was a great experience. The training was really professional and the team atmosphere was really great. Going into that race I felt like I did everything I needed to do in order to race well,” Fan said. “I think what I did in the beginning of the race was really great, now I just need to work on getting that aerobic speed up so when the pack starts to make the push I can match the speed while staying pretty smooth and having some extra burst speed at the end of the race to try to get one of those last 10 spots. “
McKay, 23, was as high as 18th on the fourth lap.
“It was good to get into the Top 25. I lost a bit the last lap but I felt that I stayed within myself and where I kind of wanted to be positioned. I knew I wasn’t going to be maybe one of the top guys but I wanted to make sure I was competing for a lot of the race,” said McKay, a 2014 Junior Pan Pacific medallist in the pool.
“I’m really pleased with the effort of both the boys there. They’re both very new to this sport in terms of experience with the rest of the world,” said Open Water Head Coach Mark Perry.
Canadians placed 23rd and 28th at the 2017 worlds, with 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger Canada’s top finisher, 37.5 seconds out of first place.
“When we set our carding target at Top 25, we knew that if you could make a Top 25 position at world championships, that meant that you had real potential for the future. That’s why we set that target, so to get two in the Top 25 is a good result and to get one inside the Top 20 with Hau-Li finishing 17th is superb for the level of experience they have at the moment. It looks really encouraging for the future.
“They both started in good positions, executed their race plans really well and actually put themselves in the race,” Perry added. “We’re very proud of both of them today.”
Canada’s open water women are back in action Wednesday morning in Korea (Tuesday evening in Canadian time zones). Toronto native Kate Sanderson and Island Swimming/NextGen Victoria’s Chantel Jeffrey will take on the 5-km race three days after getting their first taste of world championship competition in the 10-km.
Full open water results: http://www.omegatiming.com/2019/18th-fina-world-championships-ow-live-results
FINA TV (https://www.finatv.live/en), CBC (https://www.cbc.ca/sports/broadcast) and Radio-Canada (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/sports/horaire-diffusions) 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: http://calrep.ly/2JDCwxx
The pool competition kicks off July 21 at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, Korea. Visit www.swimming.ca for bios, profiles and preview stories, and follow Swimming Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the championships.